When butcher Kevin Klinger, one of the original tenants of the Source, Denver's airy indoor food-beer-wine-and-restaurant emporium in RiNo, closed Meat Head last month, there was, not surprisingly, a lot of interest in the diminutive square footage that shares real estate with Comida, Acorn, Babettes Artisan Breads, the Proper Pour, Crooked Stave and several more independent businesses that specialize in craft-driven culinary artistry.
And a pair of those interested parties, namely Kate Kavanaugh and her fiance, Josh Curtiss, the two of whom own Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe, a new-school, artisanal chop shop of saws, hatchets and butcher blocks, meat hooks and hand hooks, cut-and-slash gloves and chainmill aprons, whole beasts and beautiful cuts of meat, has been tapped to take over the butcher shop (and its counter) -- at least through August of this year.
See also: Photos: Western Daughters' homage to pig butchery
"We have a great opportunity to provide a literal window into what we do -- a window that showcases the intersection between an urban and rural environment, and we're excited to bring a higher level of that transparency to the Source," says Kavanaugh, who, along with Curtiss, will host a few pop-ups (dates to be determined) between now and June 1, when the butchering duo will formally unveil their beautiful housemade sausages and hand-cut meats (think beef, pork, lamb and seasonal game selections) in the space vacated by Meat Head. "It's an extension of our LoHi shop, and an opportunity for people to see the butchering process on a more intimate level, including whole-animal breakdowns," adds Kavanaugh.
The meats -- they're all antibiotic- and hormone-free, pasture-raised and sourced less than 250 miles from Western Daughters' front door -- will be supplemented by a limited number of dry goods, all of which are high-quality products that Kavanaugh and Curtiss also sell at their shop in LoHi. "It'll be predominantly a butcher shop, but we'll have a sandwich program, just like we do at the LoHi store, some dry goods and the ability to hold more public classes and demonstrations," reveals Kavanaugh, noting that the classes and demonstrations will likely take place inside the strorefront and in the common area, the latter of which gives her and Curtiss the space to showcase their craftsmanship to larger audiences.
Kyle Zeppelin, one of the pioneering visionaries -- and developers -- of the Source, agrees that a full-scale butcher shop, especially one that includes two highly pedigreed butchers who genuinely practice what they preach, is exactly what the Source, not to mention the public, expects from a tenant. "They both have a lot of integrity and their butchery is second to none, but the Source is also a friendly and fun environment with an upbeat culture, and Josh and Kate fit in with that culture," says Zeppelin, adding that the vibe of the Source is "just as important as the underlying product."
And Kavanaugh and Curtiss, he points out, push the envelope, much like their neighbors at the Source. "All the businesses here do what they do at the highest level -- that's the goal of this project -- and the vast majority are always finding ways to feed it, fine-tune it and make it better," stresses Zeppelin.
"We -- the developers -- are the supporting cast; it's the businesses that have the unique visions for their particular area, and when it comes to Kate and Josh, they're some of the most highly trained people in butchery, and they have a very real commitment to creating great relationships with ranchers, knowing where their food comes from and how the animals are raised, and their experience and what they're selling fits right in with the goal of the Source: a one-stop shop of focused individuals who really know their craft," Zeppelin explains. "Josh and Kate are leaders in a new generation of butchers, even while practicing traditional methods, and having a woman in the butchery field is unique -- and Kate owns it," he says.
"From the butchery aspect to the lives of the animals and ranchers we work so closely with, the Source is the perfect venue to introduce people to a nose-to-tail philosophy and for customers to get a chance to truly meet their meat," echoes Kavanaugh.
We'll let you know the dates of the pop-ups as soon as they've been solidified, but come June 1, the butcher shop will be open six days a week, closing on "meatless Mondays."
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For the time being, the Western Daughters takeover is slated to continue through the end of August, although Zeppelin predicts that the relationship will continue long beyond that. "At the end of the summer, we'll assess what everyone's experience was like -- how it worked for the butcher shop, the Source and the customers -- but we're confident that it's going to work," says Zeppelin. "Kate and Josh share a lot of the same values that we do, and there's definitely an appetite from customers for the craft of butchery and high-quality meats," he concludes.