Renowned third-generation butcher, Pat LaFrieda, CEO of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, has opened a state-of-the-art 50,000 sq. ft. flagship production facility in North Bergen, New Jersey, at 2020 40th St./Pat LaFrieda Way. Started in 1922 by LaFrieda’s great grandfather in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the company is known for supplying beef to the top restaurants in the city and country from Eleven Madison Park to The Beatrice Inn. It’s behind Shake Shack’s legendary burger blend, among many other singular beef innovations that have helped define NYC’s restaurant culture over the past decade and beyond. As the company continues to serve the city’s convalescing hospitality industry while expanding consumer home delivery, the new location marks both a historic milestone and an exciting new chapter.
The technical wonders of the new facility are many, and include a multi-million-dollar hamburger processing system based upon German-designed auto-mixing machines, capable of producing hundreds of burgers and lbs. of chopped beef per minute. LaFrieda also now lays claim to the largest dry-aging operation in the country and perhaps the world, with space for hundreds of subprimal beef cuts. For storage, there is a state-of-the-art racking system with space for over 1,100 pallets of product and an internal remote movement system capable of shuttling 2,000 lbs. of beef or more at a time. All said and done, the new facility cost well over $20 million and expands production and storage capabilities by over 1,000%.
While impressive on paper, all of the new tech means nothing without Pat’s watchful eye ensuring that his legendary quality is maintained. Just as he’s always done, he’ll be on the floor starting at 2 am every morning steering the ship.
Construction on the project began in September of 2018 and was heavily delayed in its critical final stages due to labor/material shortages and other unforeseen challenges resulting from the pandemic. In March of this year, LaFrieda found himself under presidential mandate to keep his original facility open, working 7 days a week alongside his father, Pat Sr., for months after to help feed NYC while ensuring the safety and health of his staff. As demand from restaurants during this period waned due to closures both temporary and permanent, home delivery received a boost via Pat’s website and his distribution through Amazon and ShopRite. And while the increased demand in this sector helped keep the company afloat, it came with its own set of challenges including the laborious nature of packaging for consumers as opposed to wholesale customers. The new facility provides the necessary output capacity to keep up with rising demand in this sector coupled with the surge of restaurant orders as the hospitality industry continues to reopen.
“This is a family business at the end of the day, so I’m incredibly proud of the hard work every member of my family and team have put in to get it ready for launch,” says LaFrieda “We want to give other families the opportunity to have the best meats available in their homes, because those meats represent time spent together around the grill, outdoors or at the stove and dinner table. All we’ve poured into this amazing new home for our company means joy to other people, and I couldn’t ask for more than that.”