Phoenix market brings back the art of whole-animal butchery
After becoming a partner in a beef company in 2016, Arcadia Meat Market owner Nick Addante was busy selling to restaurants, hotels and golf courses, as well as participating in events such as the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market.
“People were singing our praises and kept asking where they could buy our products during the week,” he says. “That’s what sparked the idea to open up a shop that’s all local meat. I basically hit the road and started meeting with different farmers and people around the state who are raising animals and doing cool products.”
Although he’s still a partner in the beef company, Addante’s day-to-day focus is now on operating the shop, which opened in January 2018.
On any given day, Arcadia Meat Market features a full array of meats and cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, pork, bison and duck. Almost everything comes from family-run farms and ranches in Arizona, such as chicken from Benson, pork and lamb from Willcox, and 21 different American Grassfed Association-certified beef ranches around the state. Bison comes from a ranch in Buckeye, supplemented by another ranch in Evergreen, Colorado. (Wild game, by special order, is generally sourced from outside the state.)
As soon as a whole, half or quarter animal comes through the door, it’s brought into the cooler. Beef gets dry aged for a minimum of three weeks, while the shop’s two full-time butchers start breaking down pork immediately to get chops and pork belly into the case, and start making sausage. In addition to the dozens of standard cuts available, the butchers can also hand-cut orders.
Addante’s mission is to sell food that’s as healthy as possible, with animals that are free range or pasture raised without GMOs or antibiotics.
“Today’s consumers are a lot more savvy about the food business. I can’t put a number on it, but I would say 20 or 30 percent of our customers ask questions about whether our meats are organic, or if they’re 100 percent grass-fed and finished,” he says. “Our demographic runs from the guy who wants to grill a great-tasting steak and drink beer in his backyard, to the person who’s conscious about their health. It might be someone who had cancer and chemotherapy, or maybe their doctor told them they can’t have corn in their diet, so they need to eat grass-fed beef.”
In addition to the meat lineup, the market also offers a number of locally made provisions to fill out customers’ menus, including cheeses, pickled items, pastured eggs, raw milk, bone broth, local hydroponic greens, and popular items from local companies such as Queen Creek Olive Mill and Cutino Sauce Co. In April, the shop acquired its liquor license, so it added a wide selection of Arizona wines and beers from four nearby breweries.
Although Addante doesn’t focus on selling to local restaurants, there are several that create select menu items from his shop. Chef Claudio Urciuoli at Pa’La offers a flatiron steak on a sandwich flatbread, The Porch uses the market’s Italian sausage in a pasta dish, and Finestre Modern Gastronomy uses their pork belly and chicken. Addante notes that he sees a consistent flow of private chefs who buy meat for their own personal use.
For those who are starting to plan their holiday menus, Addante has some interesting options to consider.
“Customers started asking about the holidays as soon as we opened,” he says, adding that the market will be selling pasture-raised turkeys from two different farms in southeastern Arizona, and they’ll be taking custom orders for rib roasts.
“I have to say, this is the most fun I’ve had in this business,” Addante says. “Our state has a lot of really good things going on, and I’m very happy with our purveyors. Raising animals in one state and shipping six states over doesn’t really make a lot of sense economically or environmentally, and consumers are more aware of that. Plus, the customer interaction is great, with lots of people from the neighborhood, as well as others who drive in from all over the Valley.”