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Food

Roasts, braises and ground beef: Butcher shops are seeing a huge spike in meat sales

McCalls butcher line
A line of customers forms outside McCall’s Meat and Fish Co. in Los Feliz on Friday
(Julia Wick / Los Angeles Times)

Now is the time to turn on the slow cooker, set it and forget it.

Butcher shops have seen a dramatic rise in sales in the last week due to the virtual citywide quarantine, with many customers stocking up on cuts that lend themselves well to freezing and long cooking times.

“It’s been a crazy couple days,” said Jered Standing, owner of Standing’s Butchery on Melrose Avenue. “Monday we sold 10 times more than a normal Monday. I would have thought it was impossible to sell that much meat in that short amount of time.”

FO react to coronavirus farmers market
At A Cut Above butcher shop in Santa Monica, manager Jimmy Bradley helps load orders into the back of a customer’s car on Wednesday.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)
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Standing said that nearly everything in his butcher case has been selling quickly — similar to peak holiday season — but he’s noticed a particular jump in sales of ground beef and larger, tougher chunk and round cuts, which tend to cost less and lend themselves well to braising or other time-intensive cooking methods.

“At first I was concerned about people panic buying, so if someone wanted to buy 10 pounds of beef I might limit them to 5,” Standing said. “But now I understand that most people just want to limit their trips to the store, so I try to suggest cuts that will freeze well and last: shoulder shanks, things like that.”

The majority of the purveyors Standing works with are small farms and ranches that mainly sell grass-fed and pasture-raised meats to chefs and restaurants. Not only will the butcher shop be fully stocked for the foreseeable future, he said that he hopes his increased purchasing will help his suppliers as they deal with severely reduced orders from chefs.

Standing’s Butchery
Jose Rivera bags some of the only meat left as the team at Standing’s Butchery awaits a large order to refill the shelves on Wednesday. The butchery has seen a dramatic increase in sales as the city grapples with the new normal due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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“Liberty Duck Farm, who supplies our whole ducks, sell 90% of their product to restaurants,” Standing said. “If we’re able to order three times more duck than usual, it helps them.”

In Los Feliz, a socially distant line of people snaked down the block on Hillhurst Avenue in front of McCall’s Meat and Fish Co., a high-end butcher shop with sustainable meat and seafood.

Patrons were carefully spaced multiple feet away from each other, with many pecking away at their cellphones as they waited. Toward the back a couple stood chatting with lowered masks hanging around their necks.

At A Cut Above Butcher Shop in Santa Monica, owner Eddy Shin has implemented new policies to help ensure that he can fulfill large orders for as many of his customers as possible.

This week, Shin has taken orders over the phone 24 hours in advance, assigning customers a scheduled time when they can pull into the alley behind the butcher shop and have their briskets, short ribs and pork butts loaded into their car. He estimates the shop has fulfilled over 100 curbside orders, a number that he said will probably increase in the next few weeks.

“We were completely slammed last week, so now we’re trying to run the shop like a takeout restaurant essentially, making sure people can get in and out quickly and efficiently,” Shin said. “We’re a neighborhood butcher at the end of the day and we want to feed people.”

Both butcher shops are doing what they can to limit possible coronavirus exposure to customers and staff, wearing protective equipment and, in the case of Standing’s, making sure social distancing is observed when customers are waiting in line.

“There was a point where we thought about hiring a bouncer to stand outside the shop and let people in one at a time,” he said. “But so far everything has been nice and calm. I’m hoping it stays that way.”

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Times staff writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.


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