Dispelling the worries of Seattleites who weren't sure where they'd buy homemade potato sausage, lutefisk, or crown pork roast this Christmas, a beloved butcher reopened his meat counter this month.
Tom Salle, whose grandparents in 1937 opened the Top Hat grocery store which evolved into Bernie and Boys, spent 18 months rebuilding a former realtor's office at the edge of White Center. He planned to open Meat the Live Butcher as early as this summer, but was repeatedly slowed by construction delays. The new shop, which community members helped assemble, is about the size of the meat department in the family's first grocery.
Salle says he's furnished the 800-square-foot store with reclaimed barn wood from Whidbey Island and diamond plate aluminum doors, but loyal customers who pestered him to carry on the legacy threatened by Bernie and Boys' 2011 closure (a decision Salle attributes to a lost lease and flagging family enthusiasm) are most interested in what he keeps in his meat cases. "They're coming in, looking for the things they always got," Salle says. "Old-fashioned sausage and customer service."
In addition to choice- and prime-grade pork and beef, the store stocks organic rabbit and natural lamb; bison and elk will be available soon. As at Bernie and Boys, Salle custom-cuts and hand-grinds meat to order, packaging orders in butcher paper. What's new at Meat the Live Butcher is a processing oven which Salle can use to smoke sockeye salmon and dry beef jerky.
Christmas has always been a busy season for Salle. While the store is typically open 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday, he plans to open Meat the Live Butcher next Monday, Christmas Eve. "I might see customers once or twice a year, but for holidays, they're definitely here," he says.
For Salle's own Christmas dinner, he's serving ham. "I usually like to have a rib roast, but whatever Mom wants to do," he says. "We're an Italian family, so we'll have pasta first and then get into the meat of it."