Elm Grove is slated to have its very own stand-alone butcher shop by month's end.
That's because Kettle Range Meat Co. is slated to open its second location at 3402 Watertown Plank Rd. on Monday, July 29.
The butcher shop, which opened its first location at 5501 W. State St. in April of 2016, has built a reputation for its commitment to ethically raised and humanely slaughtered beef, chicken, lamb and pork, all of which is free of antibiotics and hormones, and roughly 85 percent of which is raised on Wisconsin farmland.
And those same philosophies will carry over to its Elm Grove store where customers can expect a full-service butcher shop experience overseen by Kettle Range employee and heirloom hog farmer Nikki Barr, along with meat which has been raised and processed under the same rigid standards.
Grassfed, heirloom, dry-aged
That includes various cuts of grass-fed and grass-finished beef (from traditional options like strip and ribeye to more unusual cuts like Brazilian picanha steaks), free-range chickens, heirloom pork and a variety of house-made and cured items including freshly made sausages, house-cured bacon and a variety of smoked meats including tri-tip, sausages and the like.
While most beef and pork is "wet aged" in plastic shrink-wrap, Kettle Range has also developed a reputation for its dry-aged meats, which spend time in a special dry aging cabinet where time, carefully controlled temperature and naturally occurring enzymes concentrate the meats natural flavors and break down the muscle tissues.
The result is beef with an almost buttery texture and a distinct umami flavor. The Elm Grove location will house its own dry aging cabinet, adjacent to the checkout, where the aging process is visible to customers.
Customers will also find a small selection of "meat adjacent" items including deli-style sides, Wisconsin cheeses, charcuterie, spices, sauces and rubs along with convenient items like hardwood charcoal and a curated selection of wines and beer.
Busy folks will also want to check out their daily selection of heat-and-eat meal offerings (from tacos and banh mi sandwich kits to entrees like Swedish meatballs and pork schnitzel), along with sheet pan and crock-pot-ready meals.
The power of expansion
Owner Mark Bearce says that the State Street location will remain the hub for butchering, smoking and processing meats for both locations. Meanwhile, fresh items like sausages will be made on site at the Elm Grove store.
"My vision for Kettle Range has always been to use our State Street location as a central commissary so that we could eventually supply a series of smaller footprint neighborhood shops," he says.
"Logistically, we’ve always known we needed additional retail distribution to make the business sustainable. It’s about economy of scale. Opening additional locations grows our buying power, which strengthens our relationships with our farmers and processors and – ultimately – allows us to be more competitive in terms of cost."
In fact, Bearce says they’d just begun considering a second location when a customer reached out to the Reinders family (owners of the Elm Grove property), suggesting they recruit Kettle Range to fill the vacant retail space most recently occupied by Subway.
"It turned out to be just what we were looking for," says Bearce. "And the reception we’ve received from Elm Grove residents has already blown my mind. The minute the news got out, we’ve had dozens of people stopping in and calling every day. In fact, one of the biggest things we’ve heard from people is that they really miss Grasch Foods and they are excited about being able to come here to source higher quality proteins."
Beginning July 29, Kettle Range will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Customers interested in news about weekly meat and meal specials can sign up for the butcher shop's mailing list at kettlerangemeats.com.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.