The meat will all be local and the work will all be hands-on when Lee Menius opens his dream, Carolina Craft Butchery, in The Linden development in Davidson next month.
Menius, whose Wild Turkey Farms in China Grove has been a big part of the local food system for years, was up on a ladder in the new walk-in cooler hooking up the refrigeration when I stopped by to take a look Thursday.
“So, welcome to Carolina Craft Butchery,” he said when he climbed down. “All 1100 square feet of it.”
Retail space around Davidson can be pricey: “Thus, the small footprint.” But Menius was one of the original farmers at the Davidson Farmers Market up the street, so staying close to it makes him happy. He’s been trying to get the shop deal together for five years.
“We went everywhere, to Matthews, to SouthPark, to Cornelius.” When a spot came open in The Linden, at 605 Jetton Street (take a right from the second round-about) a block off Griffith Street and less than a mile from the market, he grabbed it.
The front room will be retail, with a small freezer and cooler, plus a small area for a little produce and simple cooking supplies like buns for burgers. The meat will all be labeled by the farm, with Menius’ own farm supplying the pork and lamb and several other local farms supplying the chicken and beef.
On one side, there’s a custom-built sliding window (”my pet splurge”) where you’ll be able to look into the cutting room and see the butcher cutting up meat and doing things like making sausage. Menius will also be open the window to conduct classes, cooking demos and even chef events. Since he’s getting state-inspection, he’ll have the flexibility to do things like allow several chefs to go into together on a side of beef and have it cut the way they want it.
While the shop won’t sell sandwiches and prepared foods, it will carry a few specialities such as Benton’s bacon from Tennessee and A.B. Vannoy country meat from West Jefferson, N.C., at least at first. Eventually, he plans to add a smoker and he hopes to add charcuterie.
Since the shop will handle only whole or half carcasses, he’ll also do a lot to use everything. Expect to be able to find things like bones and trimmings that are hard to find at supermarket meat counters.
And the goal is to have lots of attention on local farms.
“The idea here is to drag along as many people as we can,” he says.
When is the opening? “Fingers crossed,” early to mid-April, he says. He hopes to have a soft opening Easter week. After that, the hours will be 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Keep an eye on the website, carolinacraftbutchery.com or the shop’s Facebook page for updates.