Butcher shop finds a niche in Rockport
Rockport — Andrew Flamm and Sarah Bleecker Greer began discussing their plans to open a full-service butcher shop in 2011. Approximately one year later — July 11 — the duo flung open the red doors to Maine Street Meats, nestled in the State of Maine Cheese Co. building on Commercial Street in Rockport.
Flamm and Greer both have diverse culinary backgrounds in Midcoast Maine. They first met in 1988 when both were enrolled at Skidmore College in New York. They became reacquainted during a chance meeting at the butcher's counter at Farmer's Fare.
Greer and Flamm are sourcing all their fresh meat from Maine farmers, they're making sausages of "one kind or another" — lamb, duck and pork — in house almost daily. Many of their charcuterie items, including bacon, lamb belly, pate, rilletes and smoked sausage, are being produced in house while others are being sourced from Italy. A selection of Maine made and imported wine and beer is available in the abutting State of Maine Cheese Co. market space. Flamm is baking loaves of house-recipe bread daily. An eclectic selection of grocery items — many intended to complement the meat selection — is procured from a "huge number" of vendors and producers, Greer said.
A cooler stocked with various cheeses occupies a prominent space in the shop.
"We have quite a big selection [of cheeses]," Flamm said. "Stuff we really like, interesting and tasty options."
Flamm said Maine Street Meats uses all bones to make stock which is available to purchase.
"[Making stock] is a way for us to use everything that comes in," he explained.
Greer said the duo has visited many of the farms that supply the fresh meat and some farms are new while others have been around for "years," she explained. Additionally they've made a point to visit each slaughterhouse that handles the meat they stock. Greer and Flamm said choosing the farms has been a mix of networking and experience.
"We've both been eating a lot over the years," Flamm said with a grin.
In addition to staples like grass-fed beef and family-farm-raised chicken, Maine Street Meats carries an additional assortment that can include lamb, duck, rabbit, goat and veal. Greer said they've already had requests for "game meats" which are mostly raised out-of-state and can be special ordered for customers.
Butcher Craig Linke — formerly of Farmer's Fare — has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of the meat industry, from processing to small scale retail. His station in the shop allows him to work as he interacts with customers and allows customers to observe his expertise. Maine Street Meats offers meat cut to order, a unique service in Midcoast Maine, said Flamm and Bleecker.
"People are pretty darn excited to get local meat, fresh, however they want," said Flamm.
Sustainability is at the forefront of the Maine Street Meats philosophy. Flamm and Bleecker recounted the experience of outfitting the shop with equipment and furnishings obtained from all over the state. A massive oak cabinet with multiple glass-front doors was a favorite find at a Rockland yard sale. The former ice box was made in 1917 and weighs approximately 1,000 pounds. Flamm and Bleecker modified the piece to act as the store-facing front of their walk-in refrigerator. Signature red doors that cordon off the Maine Street Meats space were a salvage find in Uncle Henry's. The old-school aesthetic reflects their philosophy about food.
"It's all about handmade, hand-cut, in keeping with our approach to butchering, sausage-making, any of those things," Flamm said.
Greer and Flamm explained one of their goals is to keep things affordable and approachable.
"People from any income level appreciate good quality food," Greer said.
Flamm and Greer said they've already had a number of repeat customers including some local chefs. They plan to offer "more educational opportunities," including classes and tastings, Greer said. They've already had inquiries about potential apprenticeships. They launched a Facebook page Monday, Aug. 6, and a website is in the works. They plan to host a grand opening in the fall.
"In Maine [great food] is right under our noses, it deserves to be noticed," Greer said.
"And eaten," Flamm added.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.