New space helps local business expand unique concept

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

Since opening its Butcher Bar & Kitchen in the heart of Black Mountain last November, Foothills Local Meats has given local customers a taste of its whole-animal approach to the business.

The Black Mountain-based company’s latest expansion will provide consumers an actual view of the unique concept in practice.

Foothills Local Meats owner and co-founder Casey McKissick works on the space adjacent to the Butcher Bar & Kitchen on Black Mountain Avenue. His company will move its butchery operation and commissary kitchen to the location in the coming weeks.

Casey McKissick, the owner and co-founder of Foothills, is moving his butcher operation and commissary kitchen to the space adjacent to the restaurant and bar at 107 Black Mountain Avenue. 

"We have a restaurant in West Asheville that this butcher shop serves and we'll also make all the deli meat for our food truck at Hi Wire Brewing here," McKissick said while taking a break from remodeling on Feb. 22. "It's really a pretty bustling production and kitchen that people will be able to see into."

Foothills Local Meats executive chef David Kane, left, and butcher Dillon Stockman trim sirloin steaks in the butcher shop on Old U.S. 70. That shop will move to Black Mountain Avenue, adjacent to the Butcher Bar & Kitchen restaurant, in a few weeks.

What observers will witness is an "old school" approach to butchery, McKissick said. 

"We like being able to open our doors to people and sharing our craft with them," he said. "I think that sets us apart."

Whole animal butchery, or whole beast butchery, is the idea of using an entire meat source, leaving behind little or no waste. The concept benefits local farmers and consumers, according to McKissick. 

"It takes a lot of effort," he said. "We're trying to feed people better food and create a system that works for local farmers."

Foothills works with three farms out of Wilkes, Rutherford and McDowell Counties that raise animals in a responsible way, said McKissick, who himself operated a farm in Old Fort until a few years ago. 

Having children made McKissick think about getting into the meat business. 

"We wanted to feel good about what meat they were eating," he said. "We really got into this from a better food source standpoint and it wasn't long before we said we have to be able to make wonderful food out of these things. We have add value to these animals."

Foothills takes responsibility for the entire animal after its purchased from farmers, making use of as much of it as possible for use at its restaurant, food truck or butcher counter. 

He opened a butcher shop, which for the the past four years has operated in a space on Old U.S. 70. Moving that operation to the Black Mountain Avenue location is prudent for several reasons, McKissick said. 

"The butcher shop's biggest customer is the (Butcher Bar & Kitchen), so being next door makes sense," he said. "Also, one of the reasons people are attracted to breweries is because they can see the beer being made. Part of our story is the craft of butchery and people haven't been able to enjoy that part of it for the last few years, so this will bring all of that together."

When completed the space will provide additional outdoor seating for customers of the restaurant, bringing the capacity to "around 100," McKissick said. 

The casual environment will allow patrons to order a meal, pick up cuts of local meat or observe a butcher operation up close. That transparency will make customers feel good about what they're consuming, according to the owner. 

"Most people really want to know more about where their food comes from," McKissick said. "Having our entire operation here will give them a chance to do that."