Steve Sbragia, Woodland Meats, Kentfield and Tiburon
Every month we’ll be spotlighting a different Woodlands employee to connect you with our team and learn more about what they do day in and day out to keep their departments running smoothly. We appreciate our hard-working employees and want you to get to know them!
Steve Sbragia has been serving high-quality meats to customers in Kentfield (and now Tiburon) for over 30 years, and it’s clear that he truly loves his job.
How has your role here changed since you started at Woodlands?
When my father John and I took over the meat department in 1986, it was pretty rundown. Only around one third of the meat case was even being used. My dad and I both had experience in the meat business, so we went in there, uncovered everything, cleaned the whole place up, and were smart about what we ordered. Things started to take off immediately.
Our way of doing business hasn’t changed too much over the years. Around 15 to 20 years ago we shifted towards a true natural, organic-focused department, and that’s the way we’ve been ever since. Certain items do trend over time. Cuts like short ribs, hangar steaks, flank steaks, and skirt steaks all used to be ground up. Now they’re hot commodities and will sometimes sell for more than New York strip steaks.
Here we are, almost 33 years later, and we’re happy with where the meat departments are now. My dad, who was born and raised in Lucca, Italy and came to the U.S. at 15, retired about five years ago. I owe him a great debt of gratitude. We made a great team, and the shop would not have been what it is today without him.
What does a typical day at Woodlands look like for you?
I’ve always run the floor of the department since it began. These days, I’ll get to work early and put out all the product with the help of my department manager, so I can keep an eye on expiration dates and check the quality of everything. Even though I also run the Tiburon meat department, I spend a majority of my time in Kentfield.
Over the years, I’ve educated myself about everything we stock so I can make well-informed decisions on what I buy. To say “I don’t know” to a customer is unacceptable.
I manage 17 of the best employees in the business who are all extremely loyal. Almost all of them have been with us over 10 years. I’m extremely proud of our team. My employees and I have to know the ins and outs of this business, and our customers appreciate knowing the staff is well-versed in our product information. There’s a reason why we carry every single item in our department. We take pride in being able to share that information with our customers.
What is your favorite part of working at Woodlands?
Interacting with our great customers is what gets me out of bed in the morning. After this many years, I know so many of them. I’ve watched kids be born, grow up, go to college, come back, and have their own kids. I’ve been here for nearly 33 years, and I’ve gotten the chance to watch so many of our customers grow up in that time.
My customers are my best resource for how to improve the department. If you talk and listen to your customers, they will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong with the store. I get great ideas from listening to them.
What is your go-to meat selection if you need to bring home a last-minute meal?
I would either go for a whole chicken, a boneless pork loin roast, or an occasional steak. Our whole chickens, roasted, are so good on their own. They’re a great quick take-home meal. Just throw it in the oven, set the timer, and go on about your day. When the timer’s done, you’re ready to eat.