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There’s comfort in knowing where your food comes from. We're bringing a sustainable butcher shop—and some peace of mind—to Jersey City.
There’s comfort in knowing where your food comes from. We're bringing a sustainable butcher shop—and some peace of mind—to Jersey City.
83 backers pledged $25,581 to help bring this project to life.
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Updates: Party time!New rewardKickstarter loves usLet's have a beer!New rewards unveiled, First look! (backers only), We're off to a great start!

After all the preparation, we’re about to make it happen. It’s been two years of scoping butcher shops in NYC and visiting many more across the country. We’ve interviewed butchers, butcher shop owners, and farmers. We’ve toured farms and slaughterhouses. We’ve volunteered behind butcher counters and moonlighted in restaurants. After all the planning, questions, and decisions, we’re so close to making it happen—we’d love for you to be with us when we do.

Hello, and welcome to our Kickstarter project!

We’re Erica and Will Messmer, the wife-and-husband team behind Darke Pines butcher shop. Dedicated to locally-sourced, sustainably-raised meat, Darke Pines will be the first and only quality meat supplier serving Downtown Jersey City.   

Our vision for Darke Pines is simple: 

Forget your worries over what’s in your food and where it comes from. We want you to have the peace of mind to pay attention to what really matters: gathering with people you care about to share a delicious meal. 

It’s how Erica was raised in Alabama, where family supper was an everyday event. It’s how Will found his passion for food, around the kitchen table with loved ones. It's the way we came together, sharing a burger on our first date. It’s that spirit of hospitality and community that will be at the heart of Darke Pines. 

Below, we've listed answers to a few questions about Darke Pines and our mission. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please post your questions to the FAQ section—we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Kinderhook Farm in Ghent, NY
Kinderhook Farm in Ghent, NY

 

We’ve come to love the community. It was supposed to be a stopover on our way from New York to somewhere else, but the more time we spent here, the more we fell for its charms: the welcoming people, the community pride, and the up-and-coming food scene.      

The one thing we're missing is a quality butcher. Like most responsible foodies, we're wary of supermarket meat, and trekking into Manhattan in search of a butcher is a pain. 

And there are at least a few others in the neighborhood who have been missing a butcher shop:

If you're local, you may have heard of us already. We've been covered by JC Eats and JC Upfront.

We both LOVE food—cooking it and eating it—and we love the business of food: the energy, atmosphere, and communal spirit a great restaurant or farmers’ market brings to a neighborhood.    

But why a butcher shop? Beyond the fact the trade runs in the family, we found ourselves drawn to the spirit and aesthetics of butcher shops, to their roll-your-sleeves-up attitude. Meat is food in its most primal form, and when it’s done right, it’s better for the land, the animals, the farmers, and our health.

We'll source from local farms in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
We'll source from local farms in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania

 

  • To bring the best locally-sourced, sustainably-raised meat to Downtown Jersey City. 
  • To give our new friends and neighbors a great hospitality experience.

By focusing on three things: Quality, Service, and Presentation:  

Quality: Our meat will be sourced through a transparent, three-step supply chain:  

  • Raised by farmers we know and trust: We’ll partner with producers in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, farmers who we’ve met and talked to face-to-face, who raise their animals humanely with no antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal by-byproducts. (Kinderhook Farm in Ghent, NY, Stryker Farm in Saylorsburg, PA, and Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, NJ, are great examples.) 
  • Processed with care: An abattoir is a slaughterhouse, a key link in any butcher shop’s supply chain. Animals processed with care in smaller facilities, yield tenderer, tastier meat. We’ll partner with a local abattoir, like Eagle Bridge Custom Meats & Smokehouse, to ensure quality and to keep our carbon footprint low.  
  • Broken down in-house by an expert: We’re hiring an experienced full-time head butcher who will lead the team in breaking down animals into perfect steaks, chops, and other meat products.  

Service: We're big believers in the power of service, for our guests and the community at large:  

  • Expertise: Our butchers will double as trained chefs. They’ll gladly share recipe suggestions and cooking advice—because we want you to enjoy cooking our meat as much as we do selling it to you—and they'll have the know-how to turn meats and fresh produce into delicious prepared foods like sandwiches and charcuterie.
  • Hospitality: Forget the speakeasy attitude. We want you to feel welcome and at home in Darke Pines—we’ll staff our team to embrace that commitment.
  • Activism: We pledge to play an active role in the community, supporting other small businesses and encouraging civic development. We’ll help work toward a more prosperous Jersey City for everyone. 

Presentation: We're bringing new-school style to an old-world craft: 

We want to rethink how a butcher shop should look and feel, which is why we've partnered with branding agency Sublet Studios. Matt Kay and Massimo Mongiardo, the team behind Sublet, have defined a fresh, playful visual style for food brands—you can see it in their design and artwork for Joint Venture, Maiden Lane, and Metta

The New York Times, Momofuku, and Nike are a few of the other companies who have commissioned work from Sublet, and they've been covered on GQ Style and Refinery29

 

Erica has a decade of experience in restaurants and hospitality. She’s done it all, from serving sweet tea in a small-town diner in Alabama, to managing a Michelin-starred restaurant in Brooklyn, to working with the president of a national hotel brand to improve their food and beverage program.

Will is an expert in brand strategy and business operations. “How should we market ourselves?” “How should we sell our product?” “Who should we hire for this role?” Will has been answering questions like these for top brands for over a decade. 

We're so thankful for your support, whether you choose to pledge toward our goal or spread the word on social channels. 

For those who pledge, we've partnered with friends and local creators to offer exclusive Darke Pines-inspired rewards:

Gold Medalist's Tasting Menu, with Team USA Head Chef Mathew Peters and food and liquor expert Noah Rothbaum

Last year, for the first time ever, America took top prize at the prestigious Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, France. This biennial event is like a culinary Olympics with elite chefs from around the world competing for gold. Chef Mathew Peters led the American team in this historic victory—and now we're bringing him to Jersey City to collaborate with us on a one-time-only tasting menu at Darke Pines. 

For guests, this dinner is a unique opportunity to share in a multi-course meal of regional and seasonal ingredients prepared by one of the world's most exciting young chefs.  

Before becoming head chef of team USA, Chef Peters worked under American culinary legend Thomas Keller at three-Michelin-star restaurants Per Se and French Laundry. You can learn more about Chef Peters and his Bocuse d'Or win in The New York Times, NPR, Eater, and Bloomberg.

Guests of the dinner will also be treated to a conversation between Chef Peters and food and liquor expert Noah Rothbaum. Noah is the author of The Art of American Whiskey and The Business of Spirits, and he has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Esquire, Details, Men's Journal, Life, New York Magazine, and The Atlantic. He's the founding editor of the James Beard award-winning Liquor.com. Currently, he's the editor of Half Full, the drink and food section at The Daily Beast.

Chef Mathew Peters
Chef Mathew Peters

 

Get Back To Nature, by Massimo Mongiardo of Sublet Studio
Get Back To Nature, by Massimo Mongiardo of Sublet Studio

 

 

The Chef's Knife, by Thomas Callahan of Horse Brand Co.
The Chef's Knife, by Thomas Callahan of Horse Brand Co.

 

The DP T-Shirt (Kickstarter Exclusive)
The DP T-Shirt (Kickstarter Exclusive)

 

The DP Cap (Kickstarter Exclusive)
The DP Cap (Kickstarter Exclusive)

 

 

Big picture: For us to have the freedom and flexibility to serve your needs, it's important we're not beholden to investors. That’s why we chose to come to you, to launch as a business supported by our friends and neighbors. That’s what this Kickstarter project is all about. Your pledge will enable our independence as a company fully committed to its customers.

A few people we'd like to thank: 

We couldn't have made it this far without the help of a few experts and friends:

Bryan Mayer, Butcher Consultant, Educator, and Writer

Jake Dickson, Owner, Dickson Farmstand Meats

Benjamin Sormonte, VP, Experimental Group

Carl Chastain, Owner, Van Hook Cheese & Grocery

Nicole Centeno, CEO, Splendid Spoon

Scott Johnson, Head Butcher, Foster Sundry

Mark Censtis, Owner, CoolVines 

Marinell Montales, Founder of Eighty

The guys at Sublet Studio

Risks and challenges

We don’t want any illusions. A butcher shop is a tough operation to get right. But we’ve done our homework, and with our collective experience and drive, we’re sure Darke Pines will succeed.

Despite our best efforts, there are likely to be unforeseen delays. Commercial real estate is a challenge to navigate, especially in a rapidly changing neighborhood like Downtown Jersey City, and we don’t want to compromise on the right location.

Our pledge to you, our backers and future customers: Whatever the challenge, we promise to be forthright in our communication. We’ll keep you updated and answer your questions as we work toward our goal of opening in January 2018. And our pledge of transparency will continue after we open, because we want you to have the peace of mind in knowing where your food comes from.

Thanks so much for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you soon in Jersey City!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 20 or more About US$ 20

    DP Founder (Exclusive)

    Become a part of Jersey City history! We'll add your name to the founders page of the Darke Pines website, PLUS you'll get a shout out on social media. Only available to our Kickstarter supporters.

    Includes:
    • Your name on the DP founders page of our website
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    8 backers
    $

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    A Fat Of Rare Finesse

    An elegant and versatile cooking oil, leaf lard will give you the flakiest pie crusts and biscuits, the crispest french fries, and perfectly BBQed chicken. When rendered from pasture raised pork, leaf lard is a healthier, dairy-free alternative to butter. Choose this reward, and you’ll receive a 12-oz container of our house-rendered leaf lard, PLUS a handwritten thank you note from Erica and Will.

    Includes:
    • A 12 oz container of house-rendered leaf lard
    • A handwritten thank you note from Erica and Will
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    3 backers
    $

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    House-Smoked Bacon

    This one sells itself. (Pick up only.)

    Includes:
    • 1 lb of house-smoked bacon
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    3 backers
    $

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 35 or more About US$ 35

    A Fat Of Rare Finesse SMOKED

    This one-of-a-kind cooking and finishing oil is rendered from our house-smoked bacon. Drizzle a dollop on your grilled steak or seared scallops. Add it to your favorite savory biscuit or pie crust recipe. While our leaf lard is neutral in flavor, this smoke-enhanced version packs a flavor punch—and really, there are endless applications for smoky, bacon-y goodness.

    Includes:
    • A 12 oz container of house-rendered, smoked lard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    0 backers
    $

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Signature Sandwich (Exclusive)

    Imagine this: a delicious sandwich named after YOU. That's right. Your name listed on our menu. Your name posted on social media. It could happen. Every week, we'll feature a new sandwich on the menu. Choose this reward, and one of those sandwiches will have your name. PLUS we'll send you the recipe for your Signature Sandwich AND you'll get two of your sandwiches free. Only available to our Kickstarter supporters. (Pick up only.)

    Includes:
    • One of our weekly sandwich recipes will be named after you
    • Your Signature Sandwich recipe
    • Two of your Signature Sandwiches for free
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    15 backers
    $

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Bone Broth Punch Card

    Whether you consider it a miracle cure, or just a hearty stock to sip on during cold winter months, bone broth is rich and satisfying. Pledge at this level and you’ll receive a punch card good for 5 cups of house-made bone broth on us. PLUS, you'll receive the DP t-shirt, AND we'll add your name to the DP founders page on our website.

    For out-of-towners, your punch card can be used to order a selection of ship-able items for delivery. Shipping not included.

    Includes:
    • A punch card good for 5 cups of bone broth
    • The DP t-shirt
    • Your name on the DP founders page of our website
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 60 or more About US$ 60

    Game-Day Sampler

    Choose this reward, and enjoy a variety of Darke Pines grill-able goodies, like hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs, for your next tailgate party. PLUS you'll get the DP t-shirt, a Kickstarter exclusive. (Pick up only.)

    Includes:
    • 4 lbs of hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs
    • The DP t-shirt
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    4 backers
    $

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 60 or more About US$ 60

    Get Back To Nature Illustration

    Artisit Massimo Mongiardo of Sublet Studio has collaborated with us to create an original piece for our shop. We’re making this limited-print illustration available to our Kickstarter backers exclusively. Massimo has produced work for many popular brands—Supreme, Momofuku, and Joint Venture, to name a few.

    PLUS, we'll add your name to the DP founders page of our website.

    Includes:
    • 11x17 Get Back To Nature print
    • Your name on the DP founders page of our website
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 0 backers
    $

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 65 or more About US$ 65

    DP Cap (Exclusive)

    Pledge at this level, and you'll receive the DP cap, a woolen snapback ball cap embroidered with the DP logo. Wearing the cap into our butcher shop will get you $1 off every item purchased. Always. Designed by Sublet Studios. Only available to our Kickstarter supporters.

    Includes:
    • The DP cap
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    6 backers
    $

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 75 or more About US$ 75

    Sausage Sampler

    Merguez, chorizo, bratwurst: so many sausages to choose from. Choose this reward, and you won't have to. You'll receive a package full of a variety of your favorites. PLUS you'll get the DP t-shirt, a Kickstarter exclusive. (Pick up only.)

    Includes:
    • 2 lbs of assorted house-made sausages
    • The DP t-shirt
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    7 backers
    $

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 75 or more About US$ 75

    Meatless Monday

    Dare we say it, you shouldn't eat meat every day for every meal. Creating a supply system for quality meat, one that's truly sustainable, means we all need to go without sometimes. And farm-fresh produce, prepped well, is as satisfying as meat. We'll pay homage to tasty veg with a meatless sandwich—made with Jersey tomatoes, or grilled eggplant, or perfectly ripe avocado—added to our menu every Monday.

    Choose this reward, and you'll get 5 free Meatless Monday sandwiches. PLUS, you'll get the DP t-shirt, AND we'll add your name to the DP founders page on our website.

    For out-of-towners, you can order a selection of ship-able items for delivery. Shipping not included.

    Includes:
    • 5 Meatless Monday sandwiches
    • The DP t-shirt
    • Your name on the DP founders page of our website
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    $

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Butcher's Apron (Exclusive)

    Like the ones our butchers will sport on the job, these limited-edition aprons are made from heavy-duty, 10-oz waxed canvas, with long waist ties, two front pockets and a Darke Pines-emblazoned leather placard. They’re perfect for at-home butchery, BBQing, or baking. Produced in collaboration with MER bags, a Brooklyn-based manufacturer. PLUS you'll receive a handwritten thank you note from Erica and Will. Only available to Kickstarter supporters.

    Includes:
    • The Butcher's Apron
    • A handwritten thank you note from Erica and Will
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    8 backers
    $

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 125 or more About US$ 125

    100% Grass-Fed Sampler

    What's better than enjoying a delicious meal of grass-fed steaks with friends and loved ones? Not much. PLUS you'll get the DP t-shirt, a Kickstarter exclusive. (Pick up only.)

    Includes:
    • 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed steaks
    • The DP t-shirt
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    7 backers
    $

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    Handmade Chef's Knife (Exclusive)

    Knife manufacturers today outsource a lot of their work, but Thomas Callahan of Horse Brand Co. in Brooklyn handles every step of his knife making personally.

    His attention to detail is obvious in the limited-series chef's knife he's handcrafted for Darke Pines. Made from 440c stainless steel, the blade has a hardness of 60 on the Rockwell scale (60 RC). The handle is black glass-reinforced resin (G10). The most distinctive feature—and the one we’re most proud of—is the acid-etched branding on the blade.

    Thomas is crafting these knives for the Darke Pines team exclusively, but we're making just a few of them available to backers through Kickstarter.

    PLUS, you’ll get the DP t-shirt AND your name on the DP founders’ page of our website.

    Includes:
    • The chef's knife
    • The DP t-shirt
    • Your name on the DP founders page of our website
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 3 backers
    $

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 750 or more About US$ 750

    Gold Medalist's Tasting Menu:

    Last year, for the first time ever, America took top prize at the prestigious Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, France. This biennial event is like a culinary Olympics with elite chefs from around the world competing for gold. Chef Mathew Peters led the American team in this historic victory—and now we're bringing him to Jersey City to collaborate with us on a one-time-only tasting menu at Darke Pines.

    For guests, this is a unique opportunity to share in a multi-course meal of regional and seasonal ingredients prepared by one of the world's most exciting young chefs.

    Before becoming head chef of team USA, Chef Peters worked under American culinary legend Thomas Keller at three-Michelin-star restaurants Per Se and French Laundry.

    Guests of the dinner will be treated to a conversation between Chef Peters and food and liquor expert Noah Rothbaum. Noah is the author of The Art of American Whiskey and The Business of Spirits, and he has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Esquire, Details, Men's Journal, Life, New York Magazine, and The Atlantic. He's the founding editor of the James Beard award-winning Liquor.com. Currently, he's the editor of Half Full, the drink and food section at The Daily Beast.

    PLUS dinner guests will take home a Darke Pines gift bag with 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed steaks, the Butcher's Apron, and a jar of our house-rendered leaf lard. They'll also have their names added to the DP Founders page on the Darke Pines website.

    Includes:
    • 1 invitation to the Gold Medalist's dinner
    • 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed steaks
    • The Butcher's Apron
    • Your name on the DP founders page of our website
    • A 12 oz container of house-rendered leaf lard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    $

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Funding period

- (30 days)