February 14, 2017 – The Monterey Peninsula will soon have its own modern, artisanal butcher shop.
Partners Jason Balestrieri and Kevin Hincks—who met when they were both chefs at Cantinetta Luca in Carmel—are aiming to open a full-service, whole-animal butcher and housemade charcuterie emporium called the Meatery in June or July.
“We’re going for the classic butcher feel and we want it to be more customer oriented than anything else around here,” Hincks says. “One of us will always be here to greet the customers.”
The partners are completely renovating the space the business will occupy at 1534 Fremont Ave. near Broadway in Seaside.
Aside from the attentive service, the other classic touches the partners have planned for the massive, 2,200 foot space include pressed tin ceilings.
The Meatery will also be very contemporary, with lots of white subway tile, reclaimed wood and a metallic epoxy floor. A communal table for 14 will be available for enjoying high-end, takeout sandwiches and hot foods that will change daily, as well as more fancy monthly pop-up dinners.
The partners also plan to offer catering, and, eventually, use their large onsite kitchen as a base of operations for a new restaurant they will open elsewhere in the area.
Meantime, the focus will be on the meat, which they will break down from a variety of whole animals including farm-raised game animals. They will offer the fresh meat for sale, as well as using it to make charcuterie.
For Balestrieri, part of the attraction is the chance to make the salami, sausages and other charcuterie he has been creating and serving at the high-end Cantinetta Luca for more than 10 years more accessible to local consumers.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for two or three years,” says Balestrieri. “I personally have an affinity towards meats and it’s about not only being able to provide the fresh meats but also to make a certain amount of [charcuterie] for the public to be able to purchase and take home.”
As part of its attention to customer service, the Meatery will take online orders for delivery or to have ready for pickup.
Customers who chose to collect their meats in person will be able to peer through windows for a behind-the-scenes view of the operation, which will include three coolers—one for dry aging, one for curing and one for general use.
Ultimately, the partners hope that that local residents who have been driving to artisanal butchers in Santa Cruz County like el Salchichero, Freedom Meat Locker and Corallitos Market and Sausage Co. will find what they want at the Meatery.
“I won’t go as far as saying it will be all grassfed, all organic,” Hincks said, noting that price would be a deterrent for that, but the Meatery does plan to offer local and sustainably raised meats when possible.
Balestrieri resigned his post as executive chef and partner at Cantinetta Luca last September, but has continued on as a consulting chef for the restaurant and its sister burger outlet, 400°. Prior to that, he was executive chef at Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse and Pinot Hollywood, both in Los Angeles, and has also worked at such noted restaurants as Patina, also in LA.
Hincks had previously worked with Balestrieri as his executive sous chef at Cantinetta Luca, and before coming to this area was a sous chef at the Park Hyatt in Chicago. Locally he has also served as sous chef/butcher/saucier for Restaurant 1833 and worked as a personal chef before taking time off, most recently, for a stint as a stay-at-home dad.
For their new venture together, the partners are excited to be in Seaside, where artisanal food businesses like Acme Coffee and a growing number of high-quality restaurants are already established—and others are rumored.
“I think Seaside is trying to reinvigorate itself and I’m happy to be a part of that growth,” Balestieri says.