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Good hogs go to the kitchen

Kari Lucin/Daily Globe Kat and Bill Stephan of Jackson stand in front of the register at Kat's Hog Heaven.

JACKSON -- Where do good hogs go when they die? If Kat and Bill Stephan have their way, good hogs go straight to the kitchen at Kat's Hog Heaven, to be made into pork tenderloin, pork burgers, ham and cheese sandwiches and more.

"We've raised hogs all our lives, and that's what Kat cooks, and we decided to make (the menu) all pork," Bill explained. "It's not because we have anything against beef and chicken."

The Stephans bought the building on Second Street in Jackson last spring.

Prior to that, they sold some of the same foods out of a concession trailer, but found moving constantly to be difficult. The trailer was also parked in front of the deputy registrar's office only on Thursdays, and customers said they wanted to eat Kat's sandwiches every day of the week.

"I like to cook. I always have liked to cook," Kat said with a smile.

The location on Second Street, near the Historic State Theatre, was perfect. The previous owner had wanted to build a pizza place there, and had redone most of the interior.

"The only thing we had to do was put a kitchen in," Bill said. "We had to tear out the carpet."

Bill built the furniture in about three and a half months, including booths, tables, chairs and light fixtures, from oak and pine. Kat gathered family pictures from the Stephans' time on the farm in Indiana and Kansas.

"The whole theme in here is agricultural, and almost anyone should be comfortable in here," Bill said.

Kat's Hog Heaven opened in November, and since then, it has thrived.

"We have a lot of repeat customers that keep on coming back, twice a week, and we still have a lot of new people, too," Kat said.

The pulled pork barbecue sandwiches are the most popular item on the menu, but the ham and cheese sandwiches have also grown in popularity. Pork burgers, gyros, Navajo tacos, Cubans and tenderloin sandwiches are also on the menu. For those who don't like pork or ham, there are grilled cheese sandwiches. Sides include creamy bacon coleslaw, hand-cut French fries and pig's ears made of sweet fry bread, and free coffee comes with every meal.

"It's unique and the food is excellent," Kat said.

Just four people cook and serve all the food at Kat's Hog Heaven -- Bill, Kat, and their two employees, Rhonda and Kelsey Moore of Jackson.

Kat's Hog Heaven is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Group bookings at other times can be arranged by appointment. Call (507) 840-0643 to place a carry-out order.

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