“Do you mind if I work while we talk?” chef Adam Lambert asked me as we stood together inside his refrigerated workspace at Ohio City Provisions on opening day Saturday, Nov. 26. Hoisting a side of pasture-raised pig between us onto a stainless steel table, he explains that “total transparency” was the motivation for he and partner Trevor Clatterbuck, founder of Fresh Fork Market, to open the butcher shop and grocer.
As the beast between us began drawing attention from customers peering in through a wall-to-wall window while awaiting deli counter service from Cleveland’s farm-to-table pioneer chef Parker Bosley, it was clear he’d already given many a new look into their meat.
Ohio City Provisions is a one-stop shop for food lovers in search of a locavore lifestyle. Nearly everything in the store has been touched directly by Clatterbuck and Lambert, complemented with a small selection of gourmet goods sourced from local culinary artisans like Pope’s and purveyor partners from Fresh Fork Market.
“Everything’s made in-house. Absolutely nothing comes out of a box or can,” Clatterbuck said, gesturing to the pair of butcher cases. “Virtually every item has a story. We pride ourselves that our staff is knowledgeable and can explain where each product was raised, how it was prepared, and what you can do with it.”
Clatterbuck assures his client base of more than 3,000 weekly CSA subscribers this new venture won’t change Fresh Fork, but rather offer an added amenity by providing a vetted outlet for restocking meats, cheese, and eggs mid-week.
“They already know the value we offer, the care we give the animals. They trust us and the products we sell. Now there is a way to get them anytime,” he said.
Well, almost anytime. One caveat of whole animal butchery is a finite supply of meat.
“There will be times when we stock out because of what the animal gives us. For example, each cow only has one hanger steak, so there will be things that we won’t always have—or things you’ll want to pre-order,” Clatterbuck said.
Steps from St. Ignatius High School, wedged between the West Side Market and Gordon Square and surrounded by shelters, Ohio City Provisions faces the West Side Catholic Center homeless shelter. Clatterbuck said its director, Anita Cook, was actually his first customer on opening day and has been an avid supporter of Fresh Fork Market for years.
“Adam and I recently attended their fundraiser with our wives and have talked to them about what we could do to work together,” he said. “We plan to share excess food and potentially hire someone from there down the road. We don’t know yet what our staffing needs will be but it’s something we can grow into. We see those places as assets to the neighborhood. We want to collaborate with whenever we can.”
The goal is to be accessible to the surrounding neighborhood, Clatterbuck said. “We’re not trying to gouge anyone or only serve the upper echelon. All of our produce prices are competitive, and we charge a reasonable cost for handmade sausages made with meat from pasture-raised animals fed non-GMO grains,” Clatterbuck said, noting that fair prices will be packaged with education about how to eat local, whole foods affordably. “When I first started working with Parker (Bosley), he talked about a chicken in every family’s pot that you can live off of. Buy a whole chicken, here’s your drumsticks, your wings for later, your carcass for soup — all the things you can do with a chicken and how you could literally eat for a week. At the end of the day, delivering real value to real people is what sustains a business, and we plan on keeping it approachable.”
The Hogs for Help fundraiser is a way to support the venture while experiencing a truly unique “Snout to Tail” butchering experience between January and June.
There are presently 50 hogs set aside with an approximate “hanging weight” of 180 pounds each, priced at $1,000 for a party of up to six guests. You can chat with Clatterbuck as you work side by side preparing a meal for your group with Lambert. Afterward, meat will be cut and processed to your specifications. “People will have an opportunity to see where the pork chop comes from on the animal, while learning where the animal came from,” Lambert said.
In December, some grab-and-go foods will be available for purchase, like seared meatballs and homemade mac and cheese. After the New Year, customers can enjoy sandwiches made to order. There’s no seating, but a small counter facing the butcher case provides a suitable perch if you’re inclined to dine in. Small classes will be planned for 2017.
Ohio City Provisions is open from 10 am to 7 pm daily at 3208 Lorain Avenue in Cleveland. For more information, visit OhioCityProvisions.com.
— Tricia L. Chaves