“It’s critical that everybody’s experience when they walk in there is an exceptional one, and that’s part of the reason I built it, it’s the mission.” Buckhead Butcher Shop owner Connor Boney knows meats, that much is for sure. Boney is co-owner at Revere Meat Company, an Atlanta-based wholesale processing and distribution company. They provide “center of the plate” proteins to many of the region’s best restaurants, hotels, clubs, and grocers out of Forest Park. Now, Connor is bringing these high-level proteins directly to the consumer through his new outlet just west of the Shops of Buckhead, now known as Buckhead Village District.
Born during interesting times, the impetus to bring Boney’s Buckhead storefront to life was spurred on in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged communities and shuttered restaurants throughout the city. Though he had been planning to open sometime later in 2020, when lockdown orders forced closures of some of Atlanta’s finest restaurants Boney realized this was his chance to secure an essential element of his new venture: top chefs he hired to run– of all things– the butcher counter.
Unusual as it may seem to see culinary experts like chefs from King + Duke, Watchman’s, and the Buckhead Life Group working in a customer-facing role at the sleek new market, there’s a rhyme and a reason to Boney’s process. Boney has employed truly passionate and knowledgeable chefs to aid in the purchasing process for everyone who walks through the door at the Buckhead Butcher Shop. He considers it empowering, a key function of his retail front.
“We are not just about selling a product,” said Boney. “We want the experience to be in the store and at home.”
When COVID-19 first hit, Boney found himself in an interesting predicament. Local grocers couldn’t maintain their supply of fresh meats, and the restaurants that Revere Meat Company supplies had no need for their deliveries. Thus Boney had all the supply but no way to get it directly to the hands of those who needed it most. “I saw the void and tried to fill it by selling product out of my driveway to the community that was in need,” he said. Lines of hungry buyers lined up waiting hours at a time for months. “It was wildly successful.” He knew then that he had to move up his timeline and find a storefront pronto. Boney lucked out when he scored the Peachtree Heights West building that formerly housed KarmaFarm: it was in the right location, it had plenty of parking, and it was ready to be transformed to bring his dream to life.
When customers come in looking for proteins to cook at home, an often overwhelming and daunting task that has become a nightly reality for so many given the impact of the coronavirus, he hopes that they will not only find the best meats, seasonings, sides, cooking accoutrements (did we spy a sous vide on that shelf?), but also an opportunity to speak one-on-one with chefs who can advise even the least experienced home chefs as to how they too can make excellent food for their loved ones.
“I’ve got to invest in the right people that are going to take you from wherever you are on your culinary journey and push you to the next step and infuse that passion in you,” said Boney. Beyond striking when the iron was hot and many of these chefs were out of work, he also says he can offer a lifestyle that’s more conducive to a healthy work-life balance for these professionals. According to Boney, these chefs love food but hate the lifestyle. Long, inconvenient hours and the inability to actually connect with those who come in to enjoy their meals can make the job a bit of a grind.
“I am investing in the right people that are going to take the consumer from wherever they are on their culinary journey and push them to the next step,” said Boney. Calling it a “constant conversation” between customers and the chefs, Boney hopes it is empowering for shoppers who might otherwise be intimidated by attempting pro-level dishes. “Cooking, if you’re not necessarily a chef, can be intimidating. You don’t want to screw it up, so having a chef in your back pocket gives you confidence and I think will really excite the customer.”
The interior of Boney’s Pharr Road storefront is nothing like what you imagine when you think of a butcher shop. There’s no harsh lighting, white tile walls, ticket dispenser, overpowering aroma of bleach. The meat isn’t served up in white parchment paper, the labels aren’t hastily scribbled and hard to discern. No, the interior of Buckhead Butcher Shop is just as sleek as its surroundings. Black walls and ceilings, chic lighting, well-lit fridges and display cases, open shelving, and even a marble accent wall lend the space a feeling of opulence. Meats are vacuum sealed for freshness– an act that makes them not only more appealing but also helps them to keep for much longer in the fridge or freezer reducing food loss for consumers.
“Being from Buckhead I knew there wasn’t a butcher shop in the area, so I took a chance and decided to make a permanent spot in this community and for this community,” he said. So far, it’s working out fine for this meat-loving entrepreneur and his customers. “It’s a win-win for me.”