When Anthony Randazzo talks about the home-style beef jerky he makes in small, specialty batches, he is telling a story beyond the arousing flavors and fine cuts of beef he is known for. His story is one of perseverance, personal connections, and passion.
Randazzo, a realtor at Coast Realty and lecturer at Cal Poly, has long been an entrepreneur, launching his own line of surf and snowboard clothing and a screen-printing and graphics business, Synergy, after graduating from Cal Poly. A line of retail stores, including Morro Bay Surf Company, Los Osos Boardshop, and San Luis Surf Company, soon followed. However, with the economic downturn in 2008, those dreams were shattered.
“It’s been a long time since we had to close the doors,” he said. “It served as a good lesson that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Now, a little more than a decade later, Randazzo is beginning again by launching a member-only jerky subscription club dubbed “Really Dead Cow.”
“It has been on my radar and in my soul to start something else and get back on the horse,” Randazzo said. “It has taken time to get the confidence and to find the focus to figure out what would come next, but I’ve always known that I just want to do what I am truly passionate about.”
Customers can shop online and choose from varying monthly subscription options and beef jerky flavors such as Hubie Chipotle, Peppered Mesquite, and Hickory Kick. The beef, all sourced locally, and the recipes have been refined over a period of more than seven years, each one handmade in small batches and tested by Randazzo’s closest family and friends until he got the rich flavors to be exactly what he wanted them to be.
“Over time, I got a reputation with my friends for making really good jerky compared to what you could find in the stores, and they encouraged me to move forward with the business,” he said.
“I spent the first couple of years having fun, the best kind of projects are those when it doesn’t feel like work, just like you are having some fun.”
Randazzo, an Atascadero native, was excited at how receptive everyone was and began to finetune his flavors and style.
“My style is a little more cowboy,” he said. “It is not overly tender like compressed meat. You bite into it and is more like an experience, by the end of chewing, you’ve tasted the unique blend of flavors and experienced each one.”
Randazzo said he was inspired by his godfather’s homemade beef jerky that he grew up eating. He worked with his uncle Joe to learn as much as he could before adding his own signature flavors to the mix.
“I’ve made hundreds of different batches over the years, trying different marinades, dehydration styles, and tenderizing techniques to get it where it is today.”
Ultimately, he wanted to put a unique product on the market. But his new business venture is not without its own challenges. This time he opened for business one month before a worldwide pandemic. However, he is determined not to let it stop him.
“I’m trying to see the silver lining in the storm,” Randazzo said. “Maybe now people are considering ordering more snacks online. We will make a delicious batch of homestyle beef jerky and ship it right to our members’ front doors once a month.”
Randazzo suggests that new customers start with a sample pack of each flavor to see which ones they prefer and then customize their order in the following months of quantities ranging from three to nine bags a month. And while it can’t be found on the shelves yet, it can be shipped anywhere in the United States.
“I’m keeping to small monthly batches, for now, putting extra love and a little fresh ground pepper into each batch.”
To sign up or learn more about Really Dead Cow’s subscription-based beef jerky offerings: visit reallydeadcow.com.