Credit: Photo by Eric Best

Credit: Photo by Eric Best

The country’s first vegan butcher shop prepares to open in Northeast

Updated: January 21, 2016 - 2:14 pm

For the past couple years, sister-and-brother team Aubry and Kale Walch have been spreading the word about their “meat-free meats” at markets across the Twin Cities. Now their business will finally get a permanent home with the opening of the country’s first vegan butcher shop.

It’s hard to believe the homegrown concept, dubbed The Herbivorous Butcher, hasn’t even opened yet, despite huge national interest from publications like Time magazine and the New York Times. But it was in Minneapolis farmers markets where the Walches garnered a local following that tested their new recipes and eventually backed them via a successful $60,000 Kickstarter campaign.

“We’ve gotten to know so many people there. Customers become friends over time. We’ve kind of built this thing together,” Kale said.

The 2,300-square-foot meatless butcher shop will serve as the duo’s first brick-and-mortar retail space and production kitchen (they previously worked out of Kindred Kitchen in North Minneapolis). Much like a traditional butcher shop, The Herbivorous Butcher will have a deli counter where vegans, vegetarians and omnivores can pick up the team’s small-batch meat alternatives and dairy-free cheese. While it has no seating, the shop will have a hot sandwich or another to-go item for a quick vegan meal. 

 

The shop, complete with a butcher knife sign out front, is located next door to Red Stag Supperclub (restaurateur Kim Bartmann is their landlord) in the former City Salvage space. The shop’s retail component will also feature local vegan products and some of Aubry and Kale’s favorite items to pair with their products. Some are from the farmers markets where the Walches got their start.

The two envision the shop as a resource for both vegans and non-vegans alike. They’re selling a vegan starter kit ($125) that features 10 of their most popular items, along with snacks, a meal plan and recipes, to give curious diners a crash course into the shop and veganism. Aubry said the kit came out of challenging former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart to PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) 30-day vegan challenge. 

Some of the most popular meats, which are made of wheat gluten, for non-vegans are their Smoky House BBQ Ribs (“BBQ Ribs that will fool your dad,” they say) and the Italian sausage, Aubry said. The products, many of which come heavily spiced and flavored, aren’t meant to be tasteless health foods, but as alternatives for regular — even crave-worthy — dishes, from Korean ribs to filet mignon.

The dairy-free cheeses, which contain organic coconut oil and soymilk, are meant to melt evenly and have a creamy taste much like traditional cheese, Kale said. The Herbivorous Butcher offers several different kinds, from a dill Havarti to a truffle oil-infused camembert. 

The flavors are meant to winner over any palate. Ryan Strandjord, the shop’s chief marketing officer, told The Journal last summer that many of their customers aren’t vegans, but curious diners or flexitarians (semi-vegetarians) looking to reduce their meat footprint. They hope to offer gluten-free, halal and kosher options after the shop opens to expand their audience, he added.

As the country’s first vegan butcher shop, The Herbivorous Butcher will also have a national presence via an online store. The Walches started taking pre-orders nationwide after they announced the opening and hope to ship those orders in February. 

“Now that we have this Valhalla of a kitchen we can make it for the world,” Kale said. 

The Herbivorous Butcher will open at 507 1st Ave. NE on Jan. 23 with giveaways, promotions and surprise appearances going on throughout the weekend.

The shop’s normal business hours, which begin Jan. 26, are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.