Jamie Tober, Marketing Specialist and Bonnie Hoagland, co-owner of the Meat House

Jamie Tober, Marketing Specialist and Bonnie Hoagland, co-owner of the Meat House

In August of 2010, Coolidge Corner got a new butcher; The Meat House on 1285 Beacon Street. Two long-time friends from Portsmouth, NH, Jason Parent and Justin Rosberg started the business together. Jason and Justin always wanted to create a locally-focused butcher shop. They did, and it fast became a Portsmouth institution. The organization based on the “neighborhood butcher” theme quickly spread to locations in 8 states, including 6 in Massachusetts, the most recent of which is Brookline.

Before assuming from The Meat House’s rapid growth that another faceless chain store has invaded our community, take a closer look. Portsmouth is really just down the road and The Meat House employees are local.  It’s important to also point out that about 30-35% of the store’s products are produced locally, with about 20-25% grown right in the Brookline area.

My first visit to The Meat House got off to a great start – I got a parking space right out in front. I was so excited I took a picture of my parked car with my iPhone and emailed it to friends as proof. The building also boasts a parking lot in case my experience was just first time luck.

The Meat House is very spacious, making everything is easy to see. The décor is cool, as is the music they play – loud enough to enjoy it but not too loud. I can see how someone coming right off the T or still shell-shocked from jockeying through traffic to get home from work would find this place an oasis at the end of the work day. The butcher counter is long and meat experts are everywhere. (I should add that I love meat.  If you’ve ever met me, you could probably guess that’s true.)  You can get cuts of meat as is or choose between some pretty yummy marinades. As an added bonus, they even gave me a sample steak tip to take home!

There is a lot more in the store, too. Boar’s Head deli products, cheeses and all sorts of grocery items also line the shelves and refrigerators.  To top it all off, The Meat House carries a healthy selection of wines and a beer selection is that is diverse and top-notch.

I spent some time with the Brookline location’s operating partner Christopher Hogan and marketing specialist Jamie Tober. I was impressed that Christopher and Jamie spent more time talking about their customers than their store. Other Meat House locations are not in urban neighborhoods, so the needs of their Brookline customers are different. In their first 4 months of operation here, their focus has been on Brookline and what makes it unique. Christopher and Jamie spent most of their time listening to people to find out how urban customers shop for food. What they discovered is that most of us buy a lot of our dinners one meal at a time and don’t have huge freezers to stock up for future meals. For many customers, shopping begins with the conversation,  “Hi honey, I’m on my way home from work.  What are we going to do for dinner?”  In my house growing up it was easy, if it was Monday we were having pot roast, Tuesday liver (I didn’t like Tuesdays) and so on. Christopher and Jaimie took this feedback to heart when deciding what items to stock, how and in what quantity.  The Meat House is dedicated to providing the most convenient shopping tailored to the needs of the average Brookline customer.

Whatever they are doing, it works. The Meat House has only been open for 4 months, and they are already averaging 1,800 to 2,000 visitors a week.  The Meat House’s Brookline location was also just named Best Butcher Shop on Boston’s A-List.

The Meat House has also taken to heart that community involvement is important to Brookliners. As part of the Booklinehub.com and Coolidge Corner Merchants Association’s Feed Brookline Drive, The Meat House and its patrons made generous contributions in cash and goods to the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry.

R. Harvey Bravman, Publisher