Friday, February 24, 2012

Save Drewes Brothers Meats

Drewe's Brother's Meats
"These days, every day is the last day."
-Josh Epple, San Francisco native and owner of  Drewes Brothers.

Help a brother out, San Francisco.

Drewes Brothers Meats has been operating continuously since 1889, making it the oldest such shop in California. "Maybe the oldest in the country," according to Epple.

Located at 29th and Church, Drewe's is easy to get to by MUNI light rail off the J train, overland by bike (come up Valencia and cut over at 29th to avoid big hills) and by car (close to the San Jose exit of I280 and the Caesar Chavez exit of the 101).

Drewes has been losing business for a while. "Being a butcher isn't hip," says Epple.

Josh Epple, Owner
"In this neighborhood, those charter vans come every morning and ship everyone out and come back every night. Facebook, Google and Zynga feed these people all their meals," suggested Epple. "Soon, they'll move out into a $3million home on the peninsula, and we don't have enough repeat business during the week to stay alive," says Epple, pointing at an empty store. "Nothing is going on here during the week. They only come in when they want to host a dinner party."

"They" are an influx of out-of-town high-tech workers and their families that have shipped in from all corners of the globe and settled in places like Noe Valley, Hayes Valley, Potrero Hill and the Dogpatch. So, "they" are also "me."

I feel a twinge of guilt - I used to shop at Drewes twice a month, more when I lived closer by. And a shuttle bus takes me to and from company subsidized meals.

Have I, too, taken Drewes for granted?

House made sausages
That, and the menace of national chains moving in on mom & pop turf has made not only Drewes but dozens of other storefronts feel the pinch.

The benefit of having a local butcher is the benefit of having a relationship. And having a relationship with the local fish monger, cheese monger and green grocer are obvious -- at least they should be.

Drewes proves their relationship. I know the butchers and they know me. They give me great deals on the high ticket items I spend money on. Drewes calls me weeks ahead of Thanksgiving so I can reserve my turkeys - before the buggers are even dispatched. That's service. I reserve my Christmas ham with them. Hanger steaks.. always in stock.

Drewes Brothers are the same faces each week who get to know what you like, what you don't, how you cook and what to steer (pun intended) you toward.

I trust Drewes. They will not lead me wrong. If they have a new product they will take the time to explain to me how I should cook it, what to cook it with, and where it came from.

Old-school meat-rail
Drewes locally sources its meat. Estrancia beef from northern California, Mary's Organic air-chilled chicken from Petaluma. They make their own sausage in-store, fresh. Not Bi-Rite, not Safeway and certainly not Whole Foods can make the same claim.

Drewes carries rare and hard to find items. When I'm looking to find Saag's Double-smoked Bacon, they got my back (the puns, I can't help myself). They will happily special order anything you want. They stock seasonal meat, they can get rabbit, duck, bone marrow, buffalo. They have doggie bones on the ready in freezer bags. I can get a 10lb bag of "chicken bone scraps" for stock, $1 a pound.

So what's it gonna be, San Francisco? These fine folks are dyed in the wool 49ers fans. They're lifers. Will you spend your meat dollars at Whole Paycheck or at the butcher shop that has the Giants game on in the summer, Metallica on the radio, that will french a rib roast for free and will take the time to send you a holiday card?

Can you get a shot of whiskey with your steak? Drewes has a carry out license, should the urge strike you.

Where else can you get a cold-cut
sandwich and a shot of Jim Beam?
So next time you are tempted to set foot into a corporate owned chain store, remember you are taking money out of the hands of hard working locals, people with deep roots in the community, and placing it in the hands of uncaring strangers. And remember that this isn't just a San Francisco/Drewes Brothers story. How is your own local butcher faring, America?

Maybe community doesn't mean anything to some people, but it means a lot to me, and I hope it means something to you.

Shop local, San Francisco. Save Drewes Brothers Meats.

1706 Church St, SF, CA, 94131
Ph. 415-821-0515
Em. cece@drewesbros.com
http://www.drewesbros.com/