There was a steady crowd heading in and out of Ray Cooper’s Butcher last Friday morning – opening day for Revelstoke’s newest business.
“I think it’s going pretty good so far for the first day,” he said during an interview outside the store Friday around lunch. “We’ve only had some small hiccups and road bumps.”
The butcher opened last week with much anticipation. On opening day, two display coolers in the front room were packed full of various assortments of beef, chicken and pork that would satisfy any meat lover. (Vegetarians, like myself, are regarded by butchers as “dead beats,” he joked.)
When I stopped by shortly after he opened at 9 a.m., Cooper was already facing a backlog. By noon, things were under control, though the sausage cooler broke so the goods inside were moved to another fridge while an electrician worked to fix it.
Cooper, 26, seemed relaxed as we spoke. A graduate of the retail meat processing program at Thompson Rivers University in 2008, the opening of his own shop marks the culmination of a year of planning and more years of the idea brewing in his head.
“This whole idea first came to the front about two years, he said. “It was always a possibility in mind when I was taking the program that it was a good opportunity to work for myself. About a year ago I got serious about trying to put in the proper business plan, figuring out exactly what it would take to get this place open.”
Before opening his own store, he spent 10 months working at Southside Market. When that stint was up, he struggled to find work in his field, candidly admitting that he struggled to work for other people.
“I couldn’t find steady work as a meat cutter, had trouble getting along with bosses so I decided I would take a swing at being one myself.”
Cooper has three employees at his butcher shop – two working up front serving customers and an assistant meat cutter helping him at the back. He also takes care of the business side.
I asked him what sets him apart from the butchers at Cooper’s Grocery and Southside. He replied that it was a matter of the kind of beef and chicken he serves.
“We are carrying halal chicken, which is organic,” he said. “Also, our beef is from a plant in Salmon Arm called Riverside Meats and we’re buying completely off our line which is called Okanagan’s Finest. It all comes from the Okanagan, it’s all high grade, it’s all pre-aged before I even receive it. And, of course, it’s cut fresh.
“Aside from that, right now it could save you a couple bucks.”
Additionally, he sells pork, though he admitted the source of that isn’t quite up to the same standards as the beef and chicken, but it’s still somewhat Kelowna, hailing from Kelowna.
Ray Cooper’s Butcher is located on Garden Avenue, right behind Cooper’s grocery store and next door to La Baguette cafe and bakery. His neighbours he sees as being a huge bonus.
“With this sort of business, synergy is very important. With a bakery and cafe next door, that’s one thing,” he said. “Another one is, if people are going to come buy my meat they’re probably going to want to do their own grocery shopping as well.Cooper’s has a produce department and general merchandise, I’m just trying to hedge in on their meat sales.”
All the cuts of meat are prepared on location. Eventually he will also be breaking his own beef into primal and subprimal cuts.
His favourite cut? The top sirloin cap.
It is exquisitely tender,” he said.