Muckleston & Brockwell - Andrew & Lindsey
Andrew, you were cooking and then decided to become a butcher. What was the turning point for you that drove that decision?
I was always interested in butchery and worked at a shop when I was younger. Being young, the early mornings didn’t appeal to me, so I went into the restaurant business as kitchen manager for various places. But being a butcher was always on the back of my mind. After many years of working in the restaurant business I decided to leave hospitality industry and go to Meat Cutting School in Cornwall to become a certified butcher. Yes, believe it or not there is a meat cutting school in Cornwall.
Muckleston & Brockwell prides itself on meat that is high quality and locally sourced, was that something that was important to you in the decision to become a butcher?
Definitely. This was especially important with the way things were going in the meat industry. Everyone loved their giant sized meat packs, and it didn’t matter where it came from. Now people are starting to realize that quantity doesn’t generally mean quality. People are also starting to ask questions about where their meat came from, right down to what it ate. When opening the shop I knew I wanted to deal directly with small-scale sustainable farms that raise their animals ethically, and who could consistently provide quality meat. Which, I'm happy to say, we did!
How much information do you have about the animals and the meat they provide?
We have all the information right down to each animals feed plan, and if we don't have information that someone may be looking for, we can call the farmers directly and they are happy to answer any questions that our customers may have.
Lindsey, you left a completely different career to join the family business. Was that a leap of faith?
Not so much a leap of faith... more of a labour of love. I was excited about all of the great things happening at M&B, and I wanted to be part of it on a daily basis. It was a huge learning curve going from working in a daycare to dealing with cuts of meat. Not to mention I've always just relied on Andrew to know what cuts to choose for what meal and so on, I never really worried about it. Now I not only have to know the different cuts, but also have to identify them as well. It's still a work in progress for me, there’s a lot to learn!
When you are both not cutting meat, serving customers and keeping up with all the other things required to run a business what do you do for fun?
Besides catching up on sleep? Ha ha. Just hanging out with friends, grabbing a nice dinner out, but mainly we’re just catching up on sleep.
Aside from the two of you how many people does Muckleston & Brockwell employ?
Right now there is one other person who is apprenticing under Andrew. We’re definitely growing and soon we will be expanding our staff right along with us.
I would imagine each of you put in some long hours from preparation to working with your customers to keeping the shop stocked and clean after a day. How many hours would you say your average day is?
Being a business owner means our work hours are definitely longer than an average work day... It might be easier to give you the hours we actually spend at home, there isn't many. A lot of customers have asked if we live upstairs. We don’t! But it’s crossed our mind, especially at our busiest times. Lol.
How does Ottawa and the Beechwood area support your business?
The support that we’ve seen has been tremendous. The welcoming we received from the area has really been the best part. We have so many regular customers and friendly faces who pop in to say hi, grab a steak or two, or even drop off samples of their delicious creations they've made using our meat.
I see you have community garden planters right outside your store, giving the community the chance to plant and harvest as the wish. Has that been a success? How busy are the planters?
This is the second year that we’ve done this. It's always a little slow to start, I think people are a little unsure what to do. After we explain that it's not for the shop to use or sell, but rather for our friends and neighbours of the community to have a space of their own to garden, then it really takes off. It's definitely been a success! We’ve grown from two small planters last year, to adding a large one that's the size of the original two this year. It's been nice to see people enjoying them when they walk by. The other night while watering the plants on the porch, we saw a family going for a walk, stop and show the children all the plants growing. Then they let their kids try some the herbs, like mint and cilantro for the first time. It was a really nice experience to see.
Are there any businesses in Beechwood that have helped you build Muckleston and Brockwell?
Besides the support of the surrounding business as customers. All the business in the beechwood area really compliment each other. When sourcing products we try find a variety of different products then the stores close by. That way the customer has a great selection to choose from and we aren't stepping on our neighbours toes.
Let’s say Jim Watson comes in one day and he wants the best steak you’ve got! What do you recommend?
Well.....he really couldn't go wrong with any one of our cuts. But if he wanted something that he could only find from a whole animal butcher shop and is something you definitely can’t find from a grocery store. Then we would probably recommend a bone in tenderloin, amazing flavour from the bone and a ridiculously tender cut of meat.