Proposed Mystic butcher shop, restaurant will boost area farms, owner says

Mystic — Dan Meiser, owner of the Oyster Club and Engine Room, says his proposed new butcher shop and restaurant, called Grass and Bone, will not only provide customers with locally sourced meats but generate more business for the local farms that raise the animals.

“We thought it would be cool to have a central butcher shop in Mystic to cut for both restaurants and offer local meat to the public,” he said.

Meiser, under the name Whole Beast LLC, is seeking a special use permit from the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission to expand the existing restaurant space at 24 East Main St. to 52 seats with a permit to sell beer and wine. The building, which is across the street from the Mystic Post Office, has housed a Tim Hortons doughnut shop, Wide World of Bagels and, most recently, Cafe 511.

The Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mystic Middle School. If he gains approval, Meiser said he hopes to open by the end of July.

“We want to get people local meat for their summer picnics and barbecues,” he said.

Meiser said that since opening his two critically acclaimed restaurants, part of their philosophy has been to source as much local meat as possible. This has allowed them to offer beef, pork, lamb and goats almost exclusively raised at area farms.

“You name it and we’ve found it at a farm in southeastern Connecticut or western Rhode Island,” he said, “and in most cases, we buy whole animals.”

The two restaurants do their own in-house butchering, and at this time of the year, Meiser said the Engine Room alone goes through one and half to two 1,000-pound steers a week from the Beriah Lewis Farm in North Stonington. Most of the meat is used for burgers, with the remainder providing the large bone-in rib-eye steaks served on “Flintstone Fridays.”

“People come in and say ‘that’s the best pork chop I’ve ever had’ or ‘That’s the best burger I ever had. Where can I buy it?'” he said.

Meiser said he then tells them that, unfortunately, they cannot buy the meat. While he said local butcher shops offer fresh cuts of meat, the meat is not locally sourced.

“The access now is extremely limited to nonexistent,” he said. “We hope to provide an outlet for our customers to access it and provide more business for our local farms.”

As for the butcher shop/restaurant’s name, Meiser said it's based on what he's heard from farmers: Good meat requires good grass and good soil.

“At its most basic, good grass goes down to the core of the animal,” he said.

Meiser said the restaurant will offer casual counter service and the menu will be case driven, which means the choices that day will depend on what meat is in the display case.

“You can go home and grill one of our hot sausages or you can stay and have sausage and peppers with a beer,” he said.

Meiser said one of the interesting aspects of the new restaurant that customers will see when they walk in will be a classic French rotisserie along the back wall that can roast up to 40 chickens at a time on a rotating spit. He said fat from the chickens will drip into a pan below, where potatoes and root vegetables will be cooking.


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