GREAT FALLS — A new shop is opening its doors, even in the midst of economic uncertainty, and owner Drew Hicks believes business will boom for his new butcher shop called Central Avenue Meats.
Hicks says his shop has been in the works for several years, and now, he’s ready to give Great Falls and the surrounding communities a taste of his craft that’s focused on flavor. Hicks grew up in Geraldine and went to college in Missoula. He then moved to Denver for a marketing job, but ended up changing fields and working at Whole Foods where he got into the butcher business. He then moved to New York City to do three-month apprenticeship at a butcher shop. After his apprenticeship, he moved to Colorado Springs where he worked in a steak house/butcher shop. Then it was back home to Montana, where he most recently worked at Vaughn Meats getting more experience in the local processing field. Hicks said he wants his new business to have the feel of an old-school butcher counter.
“We think that this might be the best beef that you can buy in the northwest,” he said. His dry-aged beef is sourced from the McCafferty Ranch in Belt. “It is 100% grass fed too, so there are alot of health benefits,” he said.
With many businesses teetering or on the chopping block due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hicks still believes his timing is right on track. He says Central Avenue Meats has a local solution to a national problem as the country looks toward possible shortages of certain products due to the pandemic. “I think that this is basically showing the cracks in our food system,” he said.
Consultant Jim McCafferty has been a part of the agriculture community for more than 50 years and has been working with Hicks for the past year. He says the pandemic has created new problems within meat-processing facilities around the country that will continue into the near future. “I think it’s gonna be pretty new to everybody,” McCafferty said.
He says a disruption in the supply chains creates a ripple effect on the entire process. “They’ve had to reduce production volumes,” he said. “So that’s created a backlog on this end and a shortage on the other side.”
Hicks partners with Quality Meats of Montana. A spokesperson in Miles City confirmed to MTN News that operations are in full speed with slaughters booked out to 2021.
Hicks isn’t anticipating running out of products to sell to customers and believes that local shops like his will help Montanans in search of meat. “We have great local producers and so we’re luckier than some places that can’t get that stuff locally,” he said.
Hicks told MTN News supporting local is one way for Montanans to rebound as major meat suppliers look for solutions. "If they choose to support us, they not only experience personal benefits with health, but they also see the economic benefit in their community,’ he said.
Central Avenue Meats is located at 422 Central Avenue; he plans to open to the public on Wednesday, May 6th starting at 10 a.m. Hours will be Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Their website will be published soon, but you can keep up to date with the shop by visiting the Facebook page.