BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The building is already bustling with customers who've been waiting. Foodies who are fascinated and committed to the Farm To Table movement have been waiting for this—a business devoted entirely to local meat products.
Iverstine Butcher Shop opened its doors for the first time Friday, October 21. The Iverstine family has been selling pork from their farms for years at the Red Stick Farmer's Market on Saturdays downtown. They have beef, lamb, poultry and pork, all are free-roaming, grass-fed, no hormones or antibiotics.
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Becky Spiers went with a friend and loaded up her car. They drove in from Walker. Yes, she says, she's here to try the new butcher.
"It was fabulous. I love the wallpaper first off, it's just beautiful," she gushes. "They're so friendly and happy, and the people are so nice. The people have great ideas for cooking and how to work with the food that you get so it's delicious."
Galen Iverstine says the building was designed by Mike Sullivan with LRK Architects who customized it to their needs. The wallpaper Spiers liked was designed by Slash Design, who also did all their point of sale merchandising labels and logos.
What's your favorite part of this new building I asked, "This Cut Room," he answers. "It's a cold cut room that has every tool we need to use for the entire animal. As well as in the back, we have a pretty fancy smoke house where we're cranking out all our sausage, bacons, hams and all things like that."
Daniel Jackson is a tall Baton Rougean trying to manage all the bags of product he's hauling home.
"I like it," he nods to the store. "It's one of the few places where you can get fresh cut meat. You can see they're butchering a pig in
the back right now! It's all that's fresh. There are other places you can go to get quality meat, but knowing where does it come from, a farm in Louisiana and knowing where everything comes from is real important to me. And knowing its quality, for me, it's worth a little more money to get that."
Becky Spiers would agree with that.
I mentioned that butcher shops closed decades ago when the big box grocery stores first arrived in Baton Rouge. Why is opening this stand-alone shop a good idea?
"Because you know it's farm-to-table," Spiers explains. "You know it's fresh, you know where it's coming from, especially the pork. WalMart has got out-sourced meats and they're not fresh. You don't know where they're coming from!"
Iverstine says this day is the result of years of dreaming and planning.
"We've been farming in Kentwood for 6 years now. About two years into our farming operation, we had the idea of having our own brick and mortar butcher shop in Baton Rouge to kind of make use of the whole animal and get our product in more hands of people in Baton Rouge. We've been working on it about three years, and today is the culmination of that work."
As his family buzzes around the store helping customers, his wife Angela is very with-child and standing taking in the scene and chatting with those who are waiting on orders. Could it be any more stressful? Opening a brand new store and having a baby too?
"We're a month away[from birth of the baby]," Galen says, "Oh yeah, on top of that, we're trying to remodel the house that we moved into last year. Yes it's stressful, but we won't forget 2016. A lot of things coming to fruition and birthing local babies." He breaks into an enormous smile.
As I leave the store, I catch Jack Iverstine in the parking lot. Are you sure about opening a stand-alone butcher shop, probably the first in years here?
He thinks the farm to table movement will support it. He smiles and says the other day, they went to the co-op to buy their feed for their pork. And the guys at the co-op asked if they could deliver meat on the runs for the feed. He said, "That really is bringing it all the way around the cycle!" Farm to table and home again.