Cary, NC — Derek Wilkins and his father, Craig, have owned The Meat House shop in Cary since January of 2010. This month, they are breaking away from the franchise model and are rebranding their store in Cary (and second location in Raleigh) to become their own neighborhood butcher shop, called simply, The Butcher’s Market.
From the beginning, the father and son have sourced much of their stock locally. In fact , the pair say as they listened to customers over the last few years, suggestions increasingly led them away from the standard Meat House brand. They gradually were becoming their own market, and this year they decided to make it official.
One of First Meat House Franchises
The Wilkins family has been in Cary since 1975 when Craig worked in the tech field. Originally from Maine, it was while visiting a daughter there, that they first heard of the Meat House brand. They liked the concept, and when Craig’s wife, Cynthia, heard an ad on the radio calling for franchise applications, they decided they would apply. They became one of the first Meat House franchisees in the country when they opened in Cary’s Saltbox Village. A few years ago they opened a second store in Raleigh.
However, what they found as time went on, was that the franchise model wasn’t working. What sells in New Hampshire is different from Cary, and different in their Raleigh store. They wanted to cater to their customer with “fresh, local and unique items”, and a franchise was not the right fit. They are breaking amicably enough from the brand, severing ties and support from the New Hampshire based franchise. Colors inside the store are changing, signage has been removed, any trace of The Meat House is now gone from the store, being replaced by their own brand: The Butchers Market. The most obvious change will be when the new sign goes up. Until then, a banner across the front of the Cary store announces that “Nothing’s changed but the name”.
Any day you visit the shop, you are likely to find the members of the family working in their various roles. Craig focuses on operations, Derek is the marketing maven, Cynthia is “support”, and Tauynia is the HR manager. After school, Derek’s son may be bagging groceries and his daughter may be making sandwiches at the deli counter. The Butcher’s Market is truly a family business.
The Butcher’s Market Difference
The Meathouse had a deli with Boarshead meats, a local favorite. What you find in the deli case at the Butchers Market are uniquely sourced meats including 4 types of Italian prosciutto, capicola, and other Italian specialty meats that this Yankee hasn’t seen since living in New Jersey.
The Wilkins’ dry age their own beef, make their own secret recipe marinades, and even smoke their own bacon. They sell so much of their bacon, that the family is investing in a smoker which will operate at the Raleigh location. Their seafood selection reads more like a restaurant line-up with Alaskan sock-eye salmon, Faroe Island Salmon, Mahi Mahi, native caught shrimp, local wreckfish that are all received fresh daily.
The Cary store has a special case up front devoted to what Craig calls “exotics” – rattlesnake, buffalo burgers, and pheasant sausage were a few of the items for sale the day CaryCitizen visited.
Unique Local Brands
Customers come to them for unique local products. Heritage Farm pork products. Yahs chips and salsas that are made in Cary. Stickboy Bakery provides bread and baked goods daily. Dairy products come from Homeland Creamery and Mapleview Farms, and honey and eggs from Be Blessed Farms. Local breweries are represented with Fortnight and Aviator growlers in stock. Giacomo’s produces the fabulous Italian style deli meats that the market is becoming known for.
General manager Jeff Gregory told me that the store carries between 70 and 80 locally sourced products, from beer and wines to chips and sauces – items you won’t see at the Harris Teeter down the road. Cuts of meat can be tailored to the customer, just like in the old days. If the steak in the case is too big, they will cut it for you. Need a special roast for a party, order ahead and they will have it ready for pick-up.
In addition to the re-branding, the family is excited for the opportunity to “spread their wings and grow” says Craig. Derek is currently looking for additional locations to offer their own special brand of customer service to the foodies here in the Triangle, and maybe beyond.
“As we’ve been doing for the last 1-1/2- 2 years, we will continue to do our own thing”, Craig added, “which is to provide the area with locally sourced unique products with great service. The separation from the Meat House brand and becoming the Butchers Market allows us the opportunity for additional growth and expansion in Wake County.”
We wish them luck. The day of my visit, I took home some smoked bacon and two marinated chicken breasts. I couldn’t help myself, after all that food talk, I needed my own “Foodie Fix”.