Butcher plans shop on Wealthy Street
TIME magazine says the growth of local butcher shops will be the No. 2 food trend this year.
Matt Smith, the co-owner of a butcher shop planned for Grand Rapids, sure hopes TIME is right.
Smith, along with his wife, Cynthia Esch, are the co-owners of Louise Earl Butcher shop, which they hope to open this summer, at 1106 Wealthy St. SE.
Louise Earl, a combination of Smith and Esch’s middle names, would start off with about 2,200 square feet.
Smith said that at the end of two years, the shop would have whole 4,500-square-foot building to itself.
The shop would have about five employees at the start.
Louise Earl would feature a selection of beef, pork, poultry and lamb.
Local farmers would provide the meat, focusing on naturally produced, pastured products and animals that have no hormones or antibiotics.
As Louise Earl starts to develop its business, Smith also hopes to feature meats like bison, elk, goat and fish.
He’s also considering eventually selling alcohol.
“Another thing that will be different about how we do our butchering is we’re going to butcher whole animals,” Smith said. “We’re going to focus not just on the natural aspect, but on the efficiency and sustainability of the animals in our food systems.
“Bones and fat (would be) used to be roasted, boiled to make stock. (We can) use the fat to sell lard, leftover can get sent to Organicycle to be sent for compost.”
The butcher shop would also feature a small retail section with groceries like milk, eggs, cheeses and other items that could mix well with the meat.
A lunch area that would seat about 16 is also in the works. The service would include hot and cold sandwiches, soups and a prepared salad, with a menu that could change daily.
“It’s going to be a self-served type of thing,” Smith said. “What I’ll call a butcher shop focused, not a menu with a lot of sandwiches, (but a) butcher shop lunch.”
Smith and his wife are hoping to close on the Wealthy Street building in March, and then spend about four to five months renovating and building out the space, reusing the brick for historical compliance.
Roots Construction would work on the project. Smith said they haven’t finalized an architect yet.
“We have the building under contract,” Smith said. “We are in our due diligence period currently.
“Two things we’re working through right now are the results of phase 1 environmental. And we’re also working through The Uptown Corridor Improvement Authority and then the Grand Rapids Economic Development Department to be approved for OPRA (or Observation Preservation Rehabilitation Act), because the building is currently deemed functionally obsolete.”