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!
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:
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.
- 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.
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.
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)