“We found out about three hours ago that we could open tomorrow,” said Carnivore co-owner Brad Knaub. It was yesterday afternoon, and I was biking to the gym, when I pulled over to see what was going on in the building on Pleasant near Marion. Peering in the window, I saw empty cases and cardboard boxes, some random vegetables on stacked crates, everything cleaned up but still in disarray. Knaub was in there, and he signaled me to come on in.
The place didn’t look like it was ready to open, but at that point, heck, there were still 18 hours or so before they planned to open on Saturday morning, and Knaub and his business partner Erik Williams seemed like they had the enthusiastic energy to stay up all night getting things ready.
Knaub told me they’d have beef and pork ready to go the following day (the day of this posting), plus some fish and more vegetables. Carnivore is buying whole animals to break down (they’re real butchers), but they’ve also built up relationships with local farms and foragers, so there’s going to be a lot more available at Carnivore than just meat.
Right now, Knaub and Williams are trying to get the word out. To do that, they’ve been making meat on a grill in front of the store and giving it away. “We handed out 300 hamburgers,” said Knaub, all in the name of creating the buzz needed to get a new business going.
In Oak Park, years ago, we used to go to Blase’s on Lake Street near Ridgeland; it was a small butcher shop, and we went there a lot, because my kids and I kind of liked the way the old-timey butcher cut the meat by hand in front of us. After a few years, it closed.
Then when Marion Street Cheese Market moved from the north side of the tracks to the south, Erik Larson told me that it was his plan to open a real butcher shop serving sustainably raised meat and poultry. Then, the recession hit and those plans were, it seems, abandoned.
Blue Ribbon butcher shop has been going strong for many years, so despite the dashed dreams of Blase’s and the aborted Marion Street Cheese Market butcher shop, there’s still a chance a butcher store can make it in central Oak Park. Knaub and Williams seem like the guys who could do it.
As it turns out, I actually “met” Williams online probably 9 years ago on LTHForum.com. Knaub says he used to be a regular visitor to the forum as well, though he only lurked.
With the addition of Carnivore and, not too long from now, Sugar Beet, the food shopping opportunities in Oak Park are looking much brighter. Got to say, though, with a name like Carnivore, it’s likely the market will catch some heat from militant animal lovers.
Carnivore Oak Park
1042 Pleasant Street
773.368.5554 (Brad’s personal number; business number is still being worked out with AT&T)