Fire destroys longtime Peoria meat market, grocery store

By Holly Eaton for Chronicle Media

Raber Packing Co. has been in the same family for four generations. (Photo courtesy of Raber Packing Co.)

A popular Peoria meat packing company was consumed by a fire so massive it required nearly a dozen fire departments to extinguish.

The Limestone Township Fire Department was summoned to Raber Packing Co. by a heat detector alarm Nov. 8 at 8:20 p.m.  The business is located across Farmington Road from Peoria Speedway.
Upon arrival, it was quickly deemed unsafe for entry, and a fleet of fire trucks quickly converged on the flaming building to extinguish the fire from its perimeters. Peoria, West Peoria, Bartonville and Brimfield were among the responding departments.
By morning, firefighters continued to extinguish hot spots, which threaten to reignite the blaze, according to fire officials.

Raber Packing Co. began operations at 1413 Raber Road in 1954 but its roots can be traced to the 1800s when Sam Raber and Fritz Wetterauer launched a meat packing company.

A plume of fire and smoke pierces the night sky as firefighters work to extinguish a blaze that ultimately destroyed the Raber Packing Co.facility in Peoria on Nov. 9 (Photo courtesy of Dan Conlin)

The popular shop became known for its regionally-raised meats, and hard-to-find cuts; neck bones, ox tails, beef tongue, pig ears. The shop also featured a line of fine cheeses and other side dish items that paired well with meat.

Near each holiday, the store would feature unique items, such as Valentine’s Day “bacon roses”.
Unfortunately, the building housed a few antiquated machines which were handed down, and still in use, which likely can’t be replaced. Fourth-generation family owner Buddy Courdt, who goes by “Buddy Raber” on Facbook, has only begun to root through the ashes for an answer to the question what happens next?
“I don’t really know what to say, but I just want to thank all the firefighters for coming out and doing everything they could tonight,” Courdt said in a video posted on the company’s Facebook page.
” I want to thank everybody that said they support me in anything that I need, that they’d help me with, but I don’t know what that means right now … we will be closed until further notice.”

Raber Packing Co. began operations at 1413 Raber Road, in 1954, but its roots can be traced to the 1800s. (Photo courtesy of Raber Packing Co.)

Courdt maintained an active Raber Packing Co. Facebook page, and frequently announced the week’s specials or the next giveaway with a video post. The page is also heavily populated with photos from civic events, of customers, specialty items, as well as old family photos.
For now, all that likely remains of the shop are its vehicles and the famous Raber Angus bull figure, photos of which can be found on the company’s page.