There was a time when just about every neighborhood had its own butcher shop, a place where the friendly, white-coated butcher cut the meat in the back room and knew the names and preferences of nearly everyone who came in.
David Hubbard Jr. and his wife, Julie Hack-Hubbard, are trying to revive that in their newly opened shop, The Butchery, in Sylvan Lake.
Hack-Hubbard’s great-grandmother established Ross Super Market on Fenkell Avenue in Detroit, and her grandfather, Bill Ross, took it over sometime in the ’40s. So perhaps it’s not so surprising that she married a butcher/chef she met while both worked in the kitchen at the Rugby Grille at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.
And that’s part of the story behind The Butchery, which the Hubbards opened in May. Vintage photos of the now-closed Detroit market are displayed in their contemporary version of the old-fashioned market that offers all-natural meat cut on the premises, just like the old days, red slabs of grass-fed beef, marrow bones and filet mignon, and Michigan-raised pork displayed like jewels at the meat counter.
There are also many offerings that might surprise Hack-Hubbard’s forbears, including the list of deli-style sandwiches, each named for a family member or friend, fresh produce from the farmers market, and as many Michigan food products the couple is able to find, including McClure’s Pickles, bread from the West Fenkell Bakery, Better Made potato chips, and Guernsey Farms milk.
Hack-Hubbard, who prepares the soups, salads, and desserts, has the academic credentials: She has a culinary degree from Oakland Community College. Her husband has hands-on experience that dates to when he was 13 and got a job at a neighborhood butcher shop in his hometown of Canton.
Hubbard was only 15 when he joined the kitchen staff Café Bon Homme Plymouth, and four years later he was promoted to sous-chef, a job that led him up the ladder to No.VI Chophouse and then Coach Insignia when it opened in 2004. He says he vividly remembers 100-hour work weeks from those days, but loved working with and learning from then-chef/proprietor Matthew Prentice.
With their combined experience, the couple originally planned to open their own restaurant, but with two small children — 3-year-old Bella, and Brody, not yet a year old — they decided the hours involved would be too much to take on. So the idea of The Butchery started to take shape. They found the two adjoining storefronts in a modest strip mall and put together the airy spot that includes 12 seats at a counter along the front window.