Alexander Pope and Matt Kafka were interested in charcuterie long before it was cool.
In 2012, both quit their corporate jobs to open Local Pig in Kansas City and pursue their shared interest.
“We were interested in specialty meat boards from the beginning,” Pope said, “and the business just kept growing.” Local Pig sells pork, beef, free-range chicken, lamb, rabbit, cured items including bacon and sausage, organs, bones, local wine, cheese, kimchi and a selection of specialty meats.
The specialty items include wagyu (a combination of angus and Japanese beef), picanha (rump cap muscle), and Denver and hanger steaks.
In this regionally based butcher shop, everything comes from within 50-to-100 miles of the store and is fully antibiotic-free, Pope said.
Local Pig is often a stop for travelers coming to Kansas City for the first time, in addition to local households. Pope understands how to adjust traditional cuts to better fit his audience.
“We focus on making a lot of beef sticks, things you can eat on the road and smaller portions,” he said. “When you’re traveling or in an apartment, you don’t need a whole side of beef.”
At Local Pig, customers are able to place and fulfill orders online. The store offers close-range delivery and pickup options, and approximately one-third of sales each week come from those deliveries.
Just six months after opening, Pope and Kafka realized they needed a food service outlet for Local Pig.
“You can’t have steak without ground beef,” Pope recalled. “We needed a place for this meat, and Pigwich was born as a solution. It’s one LLC, two staffs and one company with a mission.”
Pigwich is a restaurant that serves meat-centered dishes such as burgers, barbecue and fried chicken. The connected businesses help reduce waste and encourage local supply, Pope said.
Pigwich began as a yellow food truck, but after six years of success, it became its own brick-and-mortar location.
Local Pig moved into a larger building, and Pigwich now wraps around it, with indoor seating for 50 and outdoor space for up to 150.
The back patio opens onto City Market, a farmers market surrounded by small businesses. In 2017, the New York Times recognized Local Pig for its butchering classes. In these sessions, students learn to carve hog carcasses into high-quality cuts.
A typical day in the industrial-style shop focuses on efficiently producing various cuts of meat and interacting with customers. Jordan Foster, a former customer and current employee, reflected on his experience with the business.
“My mom brought home steaks, and they were the best we’d ever had,” Foster said. “I applied here a few years later, and I’ve been learning so much ever since.”
}Pope said he prioritizes the mental and physical health of his workers on a daily basis.
“Predictability and consistency are very important for mental wellbeing,” Pope said. “When we do make changes, we make them slowly and keep a stable environment for everyone’s benefit.”
For regionally sourced businesses like Local Pig, discussions of the future are complicated by the economy of suppliers.
“Scaling is an interest in the future, but trying to balance growth with our ideals is difficult,” Pope said. “Ultimately, we’re excited for the future and definitely ready for whatever comes our way.”