Costa Mesa butchery partners with grocers to offer more than meat
Ryan Ramming, who grew up in Newport Beach, had been working in commercial real estate in Virginia Beach, Va., after college when he became involved helping his friends start a butcher shop in nearby Norfolk.
“I worked for them for about a year building out the space, buying equipment, and then helped open and stayed with them for about six months after we opened,” Ramming said. “I saw the excitement of locally sourced produce and going out to see the farms. I slowly learned by watching and by doing it. It’s very, very inspiring once we opened, and I saw how excited everyone was.”
Ramming moved back to Newport Beach with his wife about 12 years ago with the idea of opening his own butchery, thinking if it had worked well in a smaller state it could work here. “California is a viable state, agriculturally,” said Ramming. “It’s so big and a good place for meat and produce.”
Four years ago, Ramming and his brother, Nick, opened Sections Fine Meats, located on East 17th Street in Costa Mesa. “It was two months before COVID when we opened,” said Ramming. “We got to stay open as an essential business — the only reason we survived the first two years.”
“We have one location, all fresh no freezer, and it’s cut up from a bigger piece, full transparency, so you can see what we’re doing,” Ramming explained. “We get in big pieces of whole cows, pigs, lambs, and we cut it any way you like. It’s the whole-animal butcher shop.”
Ramming said he has personally visited farms in the state. “I’ve tasted 100 steak samples from farms because everybody wants you to buy theirs, and the ones we picked stand apart.”
He is quick to point out that his employees’ knowledge and service has helped build a loyal customer base.
“One of our customers even hosted his company Xmas party for 60 people in our store,” said Ramming, “and he gave everyone a steak.”
Sections is becoming a one-stop shop, thanks to grocery items added by three moms who joined the team.
About five months ago, Hayley McDonald, Casey Walters and Sharon Arnesen, all with a shared interest in high-quality, fresh food, partnered with Sections.
“I picked Ryan’s brain about starting as a small grocer where we would carry his meats,” said McDonald, a friend who grew up with Ramming in Newport Beach. “He suggested instead sharing space.”
“Ryan has really high quality, and we wanted to focus on quality natural brands,” said Walters. “We felt it was something we could build with a really well rounded store.”
The moms agreed they had been frustrated shopping in traditional grocery stores where they spent too much time reading labels in search of healthy food.
“We wanted to combine convenience with quality by creating a place where people could shop at a place they could trust the products on the shelves,” explained Walters. “Like when your kid asks for something you’re OK with by giving them something where the product is less processed.”
“We want to support local farms and small manufacturers that are focused on bringing real food to customers,” said Walters.
“And keep the gunk out of food,” said McDonald.
For example, their fruit roll-ups from Arnett Farms are dried pure fruit without preservatives or added sugar. The peanut butter is just the nuts, the bread is from artisan bakery Chaupain, with no preservatives or added sugar. Eggs are from La Bahn Ranch, a locally sourced, cage-free brand found at local farmers markets.
“Part of the convenience, if you can’t make it to the farmers market, is you can come to our store,” said Walters. “We have the produce, apples, oranges berries, sweet potatoes, broccolini and fresh salad green mix from Oak Grove Farms.”
The final build-out at Sections, adding more shelving and categories similar to grocery stores along with a coffee bar, is expected to be completed in April.
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