The Meating Place w/Butcher Marena Gray | Hillsboro, OR

The Meating Place is a short drive outside Portland and a world unto itself. A restaurant that gets packed on weekdays with locals looking for a soup and a sandwich, a butcher counter to rival any supermarket in America and a custom processor in the back half serving hundreds of ranchers, farmers, hunters and homesteaders. Marena runs that. Thin, almost lanky, but with strong arms and a forward and upright stance, Marena’s in charge of it all. It might be hard to see at first; she’s not standing behind a big wood block shouting orders, or on an elevated catwalk looking down on operations. She has a desk in a closet but, more than likely it’s just where people take their lunch breaks. The thing that tells you Marena is in charge is the organization of the hang room, rearranged every morning by her, the tower of boxes waiting to be built and packed; tucked out of the way but still in reach. You know Marena’s in charge because signs of her leadership are everywhere. You don’t find yourself tripping or slipping or having to walk around anything; things are exactly where they should be. Even in the depths of game season when the coolers start to fill and everyone begins to realize how long it’s been since they last broke elk, things seem to run smoothly under Marena. There’s this sense about her that no job is beneath her but also that no task is out of her reach. Big “John Henry” energy. Her staff, working quietly and cleanly in their stations, all seemed to exude a “sense of urgency” that managers always talk about wistfully without any of the chaos that normally comes with it. I don’t know of a better sign of good leadership.

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