After four years fostering a loyal following at his Milwaukee Avenue butcher shop, Rob Levitt of Chicago’s The Butcher & Larder partners with Local Foods to further impact the sustainable food movement.
In his current Noble Square location, Levitt and his dedicated crew of butchers have developed a reputation as the city’s go-to source for custom-cut carnivorous delights.
On the cusp of the shop’s four-year anniversary, the team continues to illustrate its devotion to small Midwest farmers and whole animal offerings by expanding its business and services into a larger location within Local Foods’ forthcoming 27,000 square foot multi-use facility.
The space, which was announced by Local Foods last spring, will include a wholesale distribution center as well as a retail store and market, allowing the everyday consumer to have access to hundreds of exclusively local, farm-direct products from producers who implement sustainable and environmental farming practices.
"This is a huge opportunity for us in both retail and wholesale. Not only will we be able to provide more options for our devoted customers, but we'll also be able to work more extensively with chefs in Chicago to make their products more sustainable,” says Levitt.
“Tons of chefs would love to be working with whole animals more often, but between the space, the know-how, and the need for ample storage, it hasn't been practical. Now, if a chef wants a whole pig, we'll break it down, store it, and send it parcel by parcel. It's better for the world to be buying meat from small farms and it's a better tasting product, which is the goal of every chef,” he says.
In relocating to Local Foods in 2015, The Butcher & Larder will have access to roughly 3,000 square feet in the customer-focused retail center, and 4,000 square feet for classes, demonstrations, and wholesale distribution, meaning more whole animals for chefs in the Chicago restaurant community.
The new location will adhere to Levitt’s old-school butcher shop motif, complete with visible butchery behind the main counter and a lunch counter stocked with soups, cured meats, cheeses, and sandwiches.
Levitt will have the ability to offer more unusual cuts and a certified dry-curing program (also visible through a glass wall) containing items such as prosciutto, country ham, and various types of salami.
A steady supply of sliced-to-order bacon and other hot favorites will be available since The Butcher & Larder will be receiving larger inventory on a more routine basis.
The four quadrants of the business will be comprised of raw meats and steak cuts, prepared meats like pates, dry-cured meats, and a much wider focus on wholesale.
The origin of Levitt’s relationship with Local Foods began with Local Foods partner Dave Rand, whose background includes working for a grass-fed cattle ranch and as farm forager for Green City Market.
When Rand and partners Andrew Lutsey and Ryan Kimura pursued the idea for Local Foods’ brick-and-mortar location, they needed someone with Levitt’s expertise to take the lead on the USDA Meat Processing center within the facility, and Levitt was excited to tackle the challenge.
The Butcher & Larder’s current Noble Square location will close in conjunction with the launch of its new headquarters within the Local Foods facility, which is currently slated to open early summer 2015.