Matti Bills grew up in Austin, but she says she can’t imagine opening a food shop anywhere but San Marcos.
The 29-year-old founder of Three Six General, a small batch company specializing in smoked meats, sausages and artisan foodstuffs, went to school at St. Edward’s to study environmental science, and in 2014, while she was still a student, she opened Mum Foods, which sold pastrami and other ready-to-eat foods at farmers markets.
Mum Foods eventually opened a deli on East Manor Road, and last year, Bills sold her share of that business to start Three Six General, which sells a variety of sausages and cured meats, including ham and bacon, as well as condiments, pate, pimiento cheese, chicken salad and bone broth.
The company has been based at local farmers markets for the past year, and this week, Bills is opening a brick-and-mortar shop at 1904 Old Ranch Road 12, Unit 101, in San Marcos. The 1,600-square-foot space will serve as a production facility and a retail market with fresh sausage, smoked meats, housemade pickles and condiments, and other products from local food companies.
Bills says San Marcos has quickly become her forever home. "The community is unrivaled," she says. "There are so many people who know about food and farming here, so many artists and makers. There’s this community support that you wouldn’t believe."
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Pearl farmers market in San Antonio, one of her biggest sources of revenue, temporarily closed, so Bills had to expand to more markets and sell her products wholesale to keep the business running. But that meant she was gaining new customers in different parts of Central Texas, which gave her the boost she needed to say yes when the San Marcos space opened up.
With the retail space, Bills says they’ll expand to sell raw cuts of beef and pork, as well as Texas-made cheeses, Mother Culture yogurt, Joe’s Organics microgreens, Barton Springs Mill flour, produce from Fruitful Hill, beer from Jester King and cured meats from a new local company called The Salumeria.
Bills says she plans to start a dry-aging program at the new production facility to make their own charcuterie.
"Everything is rooted in wanting to take better care of our environment," she says. "High-quality meat, organic produce. We try to source everything locally, when we can."
After signing the lease in June, she and her business and life partner, Denny Dinsmore, built out the shop "everything from scratch except the walk-in (cooler) and sinks," and they’ve already been using the large smoker to make the bacon and sausages that are the backbone of the business.
Bills and her crew will continue to sell at more than half a dozen local farmers markets, including Mueller, Lakeline, Pedernales, Dripping Springs and Pearl in San Antonio, and provide the food for Roughhouse Brewing in San Marcos.
"I will always do the markets," she says. "They are an amazing way to get your product out there to different locations. I love employing people, and it’s a healthy thing for our business."
Three Six General will host a grand opening celebration on Sept. 5, and you can find out more about the store and its products at threesixgeneral.com and @three_six_general on Instagram.