We're all used to picking up everything -- from steak to veggies to detergent to wrapping paper -- in one stop at the grocery store, and it’s hard to remember that we used to shop very differently.
Philly restaurateurs Michael and Jeniphur Pasquarello, who together own Bufad
, Prohibition Taproom
and Café Lift
, want to revive the specialized shop tradition with their new restaurant/butcher shop Kensington Quarters
Opening KQ, housed in a former welding facility on Frankford Avenue, was a journey that took two years. According to Michael, the 25-foot ceilings and sheer size of the spot -- 35 feet wide and 100 feet long -- was initially "very daunting."
But that surfeit of space is part of what inspired them to create something unique for Philadelphia: a restaurant that butchers humanely-raised, locally-sourced animals in its own kitchen (instead of ordering cuts of meat) and
a butcher shop within the space where folks can purchase their own high-quality cuts.
In service of that goal, Michael teamed up with expert butcher Bryan Mayer, who he first connected with over a beer in 2012.
"Originally, the concept was a restaurant centered on whole-animal butchery," recalls Michael. "We’re buying animals from farms and not bringing them in in boxes…We believe this is the most efficient way to run a restaurant."
While the space was still in its design phase, the two men were touring it and stopped to look at an area that had originally been designated as a lounge and coat closet.
"Why don’t you put a butcher shop over here?" Michael remembers asking Mayer, who had been looking to launch his own small-scale, locally-sourced butcher shop.
"Come here, get your meat, make it an adventure, talk to the butcher," he explains, insisting on the appeal of getting people out of the grocery-store habit.
Michael now says it’s a good thing that the space took so long to develop.
"The more time it took to get that place built, the more the concept evolved and became better understood and well-rooted," he insists.
Today, along with the butcher shop, that means wood-fired meals (with herbs from the garden out back) from pastured animals that spent their entire lives on local farms dedicated to humane husbandry, no antibiotics or GMOs (even on the drinks menu), and a simple cooking philosophy.
And, starting n 2015, the KQ team hopes to offer classes for those who want to learn more about cooking, butchering, using the whole animal and where food comes from.
The kitchen at Kensington Quarters (1310 Frankford Avenue) is open Sunday through Thursday, 5 - 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 5 - 11 p.m. The butcher shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michael Pasquarello, Kensington Quarters