If all goes as planned, a new butcher shop will open in downtown Ashland today. Inside Boulton & Son Butchers, there will be cuts of locally raised beef, lamb and chicken in one of the cases, hand-made sausages and house-cured bacon in the deli, and hot meat pies and pastrami sandwiches on the counter.
The old-fashioned butcher shop also will showcase the modern idea of full disclosure: Through a wall-sized sheet of glass, visitors will be able to watch the butcher at work, perhaps chopping away on parts of a 425-pound cow.
Owners Jonathan and Elisa Boulton, who also raise Tamworth pigs and Soay sheep on their Iron Age Farm in Jacksonville, modeled the new shop after the 1950s butcher shops that once thrived in downtown Ashland, while also incorporating contemporary appreciation for humanely raised animals and food safety.
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Staffers will be able to tell you exactly where the cow, lamb or pig was raised, what it ate and when its carcass was brought to the shop at 165 E. Main St., across from the Varsity Theatre.
For months, people on the sidewalk have seen the butcher paper covering the front window to the shop that most recently was the Apple Cellar Bakery. Now they can finally walk inside.
The real estate agents and staff in the office next door are excited about the shop opening, says office manager Amanda Duncan. "It will add a different mix to the downtown feel," she says.
Chef Neil Clooney of nearby Smithfields Restaurant and Bar, who boasts that he uses every part of the animal — from nose to tail — visited the butcher shop on Wednesday. He says, "Any establishment that helps people put local fare on their tables is an asset."
Long-timers hope this butcher shop will be as active as the ones on the Plaza in the 1940s and '50s, when butchers filled special orders before boxed and bagged industrially raised meat filled refrigerated cases in supermarkets.
Linda Rae Barker Monroe, 69, who was born and raised in Ashland, remembers a butcher shop connected to a grocery store on the Plaza near Granite Street.
"The butcher was a very nice man to little kids. Hot dogs were a real treat to us, and he always asked me if I would like one," she recalls. "Of course I always said yes. I still like them cold."
The new shop's owner, Jonathan Boulton, is a former British Army officer who wears a white butcher coat while manning his booth at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market. His wife graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris.
There are plans to offer classes in knife handling, sausage making and butchering, using techniques in which there is a minimum of waste. Bones, skin and tendons will be roasted for dog treats.
The Boultons found 119 financial backers through the funding website Kickstarter. On Aug. 7, they raised more than their $10,000 goal to open what they describe as a "one-stop shop for organic, grass-fed and finished, and certified naturally grown local meats."
In a video at www.kickstarter.com/projects/boultonandson/boulton-and-son, he says they were motivated to open a full-service butcher shop by their belief that "you are what you eat" and their support of "a marketplace where people can know and trust the product, and help foster local economic regeneration to give small-scale local farmers an outlet for the products they raise with care and compassion."
The Boultons also posted on their Kickstarter page that they aren't on the locavore bandwagon to be trendy.
"We don't believe this is 'cool,' " they state. "Clichéd as it may sound, we are being the change we want to see in the world and helping others do the same."
Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or firstname.lastname@example.org