EUSTIS, Neb. — The tiny town of Eustis champions itself as the sausage capital of Nebraska.

It’s with slight irony that it’s probably best known as the home of The Village PieMaker. But that business is now owned by Joe Ricketts and moved to Omaha in 2020. With an exodus of food businesses, it’s now time for Eustis to bring home the bacon.

“I don’t use the words excited or awesome very often, but we are pretty excited about this," Cal Siegfried said.

Who isn’t excited about bacon? Specifically, 30,000 pounds of beef bacon set to be produced daily in Eustis starting in the summer.

It will happen in this building that’s been owned by Copperstone Foods of McCook. It’s a former sausage plant that briefly housed The Village PieMaker before it left town. That left Copperstone and President Cal Siegried looking for a new tenant.

“We had several groups that approached us about various things," Siegfried said. "None of them were a very good fit for the plant and the community. So we finally decided, well, I guess if we’re going to do something here, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.”

Enter beef bacon. It will be Halal-certified, meaning it’s special-produced in a manner consistent with the teachings of Islam. Siegfried says it’s a market that’s growing 11 percent annually.

“It’s also all natural, so no nitrates, no nitrites," Siegfried said. "On top of that, it’s just pretty doggone tasty.”

People in Eustis are more concerned about the plant’s impact. Doug Keller sits on the local economic development board and is excited about the promise of 18 new jobs in the town of 400.

“It’s gonna affect business in all the downtown stores," Keller said. "We’re going to be able to sell some homes, it’s just a good economic boom for the town.”

It marks a return of the food production business to a town with a legacy in the industry.

“It will be an opportunity for some people that were displaced job-wise out of Eustis, for them to come home,” Siegfried said.

While the community might still be partial to sausage, it’s open to adding more to its plate.

“Maybe we’ll be the bacon capital of Nebraska also,” Keller said.

All of the new equipment for the plant has been purchased. The high-tech slicer from Germany is set to arrive in May. The plant is scheduled to start producing bacon in June. 

Dawson Public Power District collaborated with Copperstone Foods to secure USDA loans to help finance the improvements to the plant.