If you haven’t yet heard of Cleveland’s glamorous “Lady Butchers” let me be the first to e-introduce you. Penny Barend and Melissa Khoury have been making waves in the form of sausages, in the traditionally male-dominated world. And these ladies kill it. They are well-respected, skilled artisans. And they’re ready to take their business, Saucisson, to the next level. The pair recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them fund the renovation of their long-awaited brick and mortar shop. Let’s talk meat!
Cheftovers: For those unfamiliar with your “body of work” tell me about your specialties, and skill sets.
Saucisson: “Penny and I both are classically trained chefs, attending rivaling culinary schools. I am a graduate of Johnson & Wales and she is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. We both traveled the country working in restaurants that had whole animal butchery programs, allowing us the opportunity to hone our skills and develop our passion for butchery and charcuterie. Our product line is all made of locally raised animals from small family farms. We don’t add any nitrates or preservatives and are very transparent in our labeling, telling you literally everything that is in the charcuterie items we make. The flavor profiles that we typically stick with are very Mediterranean and we are constantly testing new recipes. We choose to make things you are more likely to find in a restaurant, but because we are Chefs we can help the average home cook come up with a fun new recipe with our products.”
Cheftovers: Where have you been selling your product and where can people find it this summer?
Saucisson: “We have been selling at local farmers markets and to a few local restaurants since we began. Please check our website calendar for pop up events and farmers markets.”
Cheftovers: Why make the move to open a brick and mortar place?
Saucisson: “We finally made the leap on a brick and mortar for several reasons, most importantly to change our licensing with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, from Division of Food Safety to Division of Meat. This will allow us to expand our wholesale business, without limitation from the State. The space will also be a lot larger than any of our previous temporary homes, allowing us to increase production. We also need to have a home base for our retail reach, it has been a huge challenge over the past 2 and a half years when explaining our business to new customers. Most people don’t understand how we can be butchers without a butcher shop.”
Cheftovers: Why launch a Kickstarter campaign and what are the challenges associated with that?
Saucisson: “Deciding to do a Kickstarter was a challenge in itself, because it is difficult for both of us to ask people for money. Running the campaign is a full-time job, on top of our already packed schedules. We asked our current regular customer base if they would be interested in pledging to a Kickstarter if we launched a campaign. The resounding answer was Yes! We have a very loyal group of customers, knowing that they would be behind us helping fill the gap in funding was a huge push to actually getting the campaign up and running. The first day we launched the response was huge, we are very grateful for everyone’s interest in pledging and reposting about our Kickstarter on social media.”
Cheftovers: Why the Fleet neighborhood and this particular space?
Saucisson: “It was really important for us to find a neighborhood we could be a part of, one that needs some rejuvenation. One that wasn’t over saturated and provided us with easy access to the highway for restaurant deliveries. It’s a very romantic idea for us that we are taking over a space that used to be a butcher shop. The neighborhood was once filled with butcher shops. Slavic Village is a neighborhood that so many Clevelanders have fond memories of, it’s a place so many people want to see come back. Also the City is in the process of finishing a $9 million streetscape. It will be the first certified Green Street in the City of Cleveland, with lots of green space to act as sponges to pull water from Lake Erie.”
Cheftovers: What needs to be done to the space?
Saucisson: “Unfortunately over the last 10 years it operated as a transient retail space so upkeep was minimal. We are basically building out a full meat cutting facility equipped with a full commercial kitchen and a small retail front. Power had to be beefed up, bathrooms needed to be brought to code, and quite a bit of wallpaper has to come down. The hardwood floors have to be refinished. Obviously quite a bit of equipment has to be purchased including a very large exhaust hood.”
Cheftovers: Besides your choice cuts of meat, what else will you prepare and sell in the space?
Saucisson: “We have a full line of sausages, lunch meats, and all the charcuterie items we currently produce. We try to stay seasonal with our offerings which will be available on a rotation. We will also offer soups, stocks, sandwiches & charcuterie boards. We will work into fresh cuts as well. Eventually we want to add sausage making equipment and different casings for sale for the home sausage maker. Finding these things is quite a challenge in smaller amounts for the home charcuterie enthusiast.”
Cheftovers: What other plans do you have?
Saucisson: Our plan is to keep that space as active as possible. Classes for adults & children, workshops, wine tastings, beer tastings, pop up dinners, and community cookouts.
As of the publishing date for this post, with 24 days left in their Kickstarter campaign, The Lady Butchers were nearly 50% funded by 124 backers. If you’d like to contribute to their cause, they’re offering a variety of incentives, including lower level rewards like t-shirts and bumper stickers, and larger ones, like several pounds of sausage and even charcuterie items and a meat of the month club. The project won’t be funded unless $25,000 is pledged by May 1, 2016. Click here to support them.