NORTH ADAMS — Turning a lost job into a chance to showcase the family trade has brought a new butcher shop to the city's West End.
Brazeau's Butcher Shop opened on May 25 at 746 State Road, near the intersection with Hawthorne Avenue, and business is good, said shop owner David Brazeau.
"We've been steady every day," he said. "At suppertime, we get hammered and on Saturdays it is standing room only, wall-to-wall. The phone goes nonstop."
Brazeau was among those whose jobs were lost when the city's Price Chopper supermarket closed in 2015. He'd been a butcher there for 15 years. His father spent 38 years cutting meat for the supermarket chain while his maternal grandmother held a butcher's job for the company when it was known as Central Markets, Brazeau said. A family recipe for "old-school Italian-style hot sausage" comes from his mother, he added.
"I had a big following at the market," Brazeau said. "People started asking me when I was going to open my own shop."
So, he took their advice.
The store sells a wide variety of premium quality meats cut to customer preference. Meats are not pre-packaged, so customers may purchase the exact amount needed. A glass case displays meats including chicken cuts, chops, steaks, marinated meats, ground beef patties, sliced bacon, and more. Roasts and other cuts of meat are available as well. Bulk sausage is available in varieties such as garlic and onion, country-style and hot and sweet styles. The shop also sells containers of potato and macaroni salad, rolls, potatoes, onions, and ketchup and mustard.
Brazeau said shop customers like the personal service, the meat quality, and the ability to pick what they need or want. He is able to prepare large special event orders with a week's notice, he said.
Butcher shops were once staples of neighborhoods, he noted.
"This is the wave of the future," he said about the business. "It's coming full-circle, it's what people want. There are people who come in every day and there are people doing their weekly meat shopping here."
Diane Cantoni drove to the city from Lenox to make a purchase, she said. She and Brazeau worked together at the former Price Chopper supermarket on State Road.
"I don't know what to buy because it all looks good," Cantoni said, walking to and fro, perusing the meat cases. "I read about this shop online, and one of the reasons I came up here is because you don't see this kind of shop and service anymore."
City resident Linda O'Connell said she is a returning customer.
"My husband stopped in last week for rib-eyes (steak) and they were outstanding," she said. "I'm getting burgers today and I'm coming back for strip steaks."
Salvatore Ferrara said that he stopped by because he's heard good things about the meat quality.
"I heard about the place through word of mouth and the word was good," the city resident said. "I wanted to try it."
The flow of customers keeps the store atmosphere light-hearted, Brazeau said.
"The people coming here, they like the one-on-one," he said. "We joke and we have fun. We want people to feel like we've been friends for a long time."
Brazeau gets a helping hand at the shop from Elizabeth "Liz" Funke. Funke owned and operated the Sand Bar restaurant in Queens, N.Y. for about 10 years, she said. She and Brazeau can answer meat preparation and cooking questions, she said.
"I am a real foodie, I love all kinds of food," she said. "I love to see the people go out the door happy and I love when they come back happy."
Launching a small business requires planning. Brazeau and Funke attended classes offered by the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center in Pittsfield. The center's Regional Director Keith Girouard shared a tremendous amount of knowledge and information, said Brazeau.
"He helped us a lot," he said.
The butcher said there is also potential for the business to grow.
"We would like to expand someday," said Brazeau. "We are entertaining thoughts about it."
If you go ...
What: Brazeau's Butcher Shop, a full-service shop specializing in custom orders.
Where: 746 State Road, near the intersection with Hawthorne Avenue, North Adams.
Store hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Info: 413-663-0045 or find them on Facebook.