It was big news earlier this year when our neighborhood whole-animal butcher, The Meat Hook, left their space in the back of the Brooklyn Kitchen and moved a little further into Williamsburg. The new Graham Avenue space, which opened on February 26th, is bigger, brighter and allows for a bit more interaction between their fabulous butchers and us customers. I stopped by recently to get some groceries and catch up with owner Brent Young.
Brent and Benjamin Turley currently own The Meat Hook and sister shop, Meat Hook Sandwich Shop (495 Lorimer Street). They, with fellow butcher Tom Mylan, founded The Meat Hook back in the fall of 2009, all after working for south Williamsburg’s Marlow and Daughters. Surprisingly, at the time, there were few whole-animal butchers in New York City, much less in Brooklyn, with Marlow and Daughters being their main (but friendly) competition. “There was no one to ask. The business plan didn’t really exist at that point,” Brent recently told me when asked how this opening differed from the first. This time around, they knew what their goals were, they knew what they needed out of a space, and, with a reasonable budget they could stick to, were able to pull the entire shop together in three months, on deadline. One important aspect was to stay in the neighborhood. They had kept an eye on commercial properties for years, and knew they couldn’t leave their Greenpoint & Williamsburg-based customers.
A main aim of the new shop is to become “your ultimate corner store.” The products and seasonal produce found in the front of the store—Battenkill Creamery, Zapp’s potato chips, artisanal cheeses and other interesting things to “make people happy” can be found on their shelves now—are curated by the entire Meat Hook team. Also available are grab-and-go sandwiches from the Sandwich Shop (the menu rotates throughout the work week) making it easy to pick up a quick lunch while getting your shopping done. With the new space came a little concrete backyard, where they plan on grilling burgers, hot dogs and the like out back on Monday evenings, starting today! As for their neighbors, everyone appears to be getting along. The Meat Hook is bringing new foot traffic over to Graham Avenue (myself included) and complementing the area’s established businesses.
Of course, it is their meat that brings in the customers. They are still sourcing from local and sustainable farms raising grass-fed, grass-finished, and pasture-raised animals. They have a full range of meats and cuts available whether you need something for your backyard BBQ, or a steak for dinner, or house-made bacon for your weekend at-home brunch. The challenge though still is keeping up with the trends. “Three years ago, we couldn’t sell a beef bone to save our life, and now we don’t have enough beef bones,” says Brent. Ultimately, they still want to be the butcher shop that will have you leave with what you need, which sometimes means something better-suited (and cheaper) than what you came for (recipes and cooking advice can always be had for free.)