Direct from the Source: The Butcher and Grocer
A shared passion for responsible sourcing drives the co-founders of The Butcher and Grocer in Grandview.
While working at Bluescreek Farm Meats in the North Market, Tim Struble met the gregarious and like-minded Tony Tanner a little over a year ago. The pair opened The Butcher and Grocer this July, selling only Ohio-raised beef, pork, lamb and poultry, plus specialty grocery items like Dan the Baker bread, Ohio cheeses, spices and honey. Struble serves as head butcher and cheesemonger, and while the pair approach the business from different angles, their enthusiasm for locally sourced, antibiotic-free meats and quality food is contagious. I sat down with them for an interview at Luck Bros' Coffee House, just a couple of doors down from their new space.
Why did Columbus need The Butcher ?and Grocer?
Tim: There's no place like this in the city. The difference with us is that we wanted to be completely open with absolutely everything in the store-never anything out of boxes or bags, not getting anything that doesn't come from Ohio to put into our meat case for the fresh meats. And every other major city has some very good butcher shops … I felt like Columbus was primed for it. There's no Marlow & Daughters here [Brooklyn], there's no Publican [Chicago]. It was time, especially with Rife's leaving Grandview.
Tony: I just wanted to have access to Ohio-grown beef, lamb, pork and chicken without chasing farmers around farmers markets every week. And I also wanted it fresh. I was just not able to find anyplace where … I could see their operation and know that what I was getting was actually from the farm. So I figured I can either chase farmers around farmers markets or I can try to open my own butcher shop. I only had one problem, which was I didn't know how to butcher anything. So that's what made this perfect.
Do you think you guys balance each ?other well?
Tim: [laughing] Tony's definitely the front-of-the-house guy and I'm definitely back of the house.
Tony: When it gets technical, talk to Tim … If you want to know if it tastes good or not, I can tell you that.
How did you first get interested in responsible sourcing?
Tony: A good friend of mine, Rob Young, died of cancer at 45; a lung cancer that's typically found in people over the age of 75 who have smoked, and he was in his mid-40s and had never smoked … Nobody could figure out how he got this type of cancer. He thought it could be most likely attributed to the food he ate. He was a healthy guy, he worked out. He worked at IBM; not in coal mines or big smoke-filled rooms. When he died in November of 2014, I started to try to find properly raised meat (mostly 'cause I'm a red meat eater) and that's what drove me.
Tim, you were raised by a vegetarian father. How did he influence you?
Tim: He instilled the values in me that if you're going to eat meat, you should know where it comes from and you should use everything from the animal. So those are the philosophies that have driven me-not letting anything go to waste. When we're done at the end of the day we have maybe 10 pounds of things that we're actually throwing away out of a 500-pound carcass.
And where did you learn the trade?
Tim: I started at Weiland's. John Williams [the Weiland's co-founder who passed away this year] taught me a lot … And then I learned a lot from David Smith at Bluescreek. I'd say that David Smith and John Williams were definitely my mentors. I worked at Weiland's all through high school and college.
You guys have partnered with The Hungarian Butcher (Dan Varga and James Anderson) on charcuterie. What do you look for in good charcuterie?
Tim: Well, the No. 1 for us is where it comes from. Dan sources all of his stuff from James Anderson [of Anderson Farms and Ray Ray's Hog Pit]. We're also looking for awesome flavor, awesome texture.
Tony: Things to go with our incredible cheeses. The cheese that Tim's picked out from Ohio is unbelievable; we don't need to import a whole lot.
Tim: It can stand up against anything that I've had.
Tony: You know what's exciting? All of these creamery guys are like, "You need more already?" You wouldn't believe the cheese curd market in Columbus. Your follow up question is, "Who decided you should get curds?"
I'll play along. Who decided you should sell cheese curds?
Tim: Tony decided we should get curds. I didn't think they would sell, I really didn't. But they are probably the No. 1 seller, maybe No. 2, and they are delicious.
You've talked about holding "meet the farmer" events at the shop. Why do you think that's important?
Tony: We will probably look to do that after summer is over. The reason why it's important is … when you hear people like Paul Harper at Woodland Ridge Farm-I mean, the guy is in love with pigs … When you hear them talk about why they are doing what they do, it's so much more powerful. And I think it gives people a better appreciation for what they are buying.
Tim: Nobody brags on your kids better than you do. And that's how these guys are. I feel like it gives people a source of comfort.
Tony: If you don't believe that Rob [Phillips of RL Valley Ranch] is using spent Jackie O's brewers grain twice a week [to feed his cows], I can get you from here to that farm in an hour and 10 minutes and you can hold it in your hands.
Tim: And you can smell the beer.
Tony: You can smell the beer. A lot of people may not want to do that, so that's why I want to bring [the farmers] here.
I'm guessing you have cuts at the shop that are hard to find elsewhere.
Tim: You won't find long ribs in very many places, because a lot of places just get short ribs pre-cut. The velvet steak, you won't find many places. It's out of the rear leg. The bavette is basically a super skirt steak. We have picanha, which is a popular cut in South America … And you're not going to find our sausage anywhere else because we make it in house.
If you could take only one cut home from the shop, what is it and how would you prepare it?
Tony: Chuck eye steak, 36-hour sous vide and seared off with a Searzall. Done, call it a day.
Tim: I'm gonna do a pork shoulder and marinate it overnight in some orange juice, garlic and rosemary. Let it get all happy overnight, then throw it in a stock pot or slow oven all day long. Then either make a sauce out of the marinade or pull it and make carnitas. Pork is king for me. The fattier the better.
Getting to know The Butcher and Grocer
Window into their world
Interaction is encouraged at The Butcher and Grocer, where customers can watch co-founder and head butcher Tim Struble and general manager Dustin Butler butchering meat through an open window at the back of the shop. Their handiwork is evident in this Symmes Creek Ranch 28-ounce porterhouse, an impressive cut of grass-fed and grass-finished beef.
How the sausage is named
This year, Mark Kvamme (co-founder of Drive Capital) agreed to make a sizable donation to Tony Tanner's Pelotonia fund. The catch? Tanner, The Butcher and Grocer's co-founder and managing partner, couldn't shave his beard for a year. But Tanner was looking to up the ante. For a donation of $15,000 Tanner offered to name one of the butcher shop's house-made sausages after Kvamme's son for a year. And the "Magnus" Polish sausage ($8.99/pound) was christened.
Cheesemonger's Ohio picks
The shop stocks Yellow House Blue ($25.99/pound), a delicious sheep's milk cheese that will win over blue cheese skeptics. It's drier and much lighter than the familiar Maytag blue. Also look for Kokoborrego's Owl Creek Tomme ($28.99/pound). Similar to Manchego, this sheep's milk cheese is dry and nutty with a good amount of salt.
The Butcher and Grocer
1089 W. First Ave., Grandview, 614-372-5376