Owner: Nick Chase
Friendly Nick’s Butcher is a high-end meat market that sources its meat from local, sustainable ranchers and farms. They pursue whole animal butchery to offer customers a variety of affordable cuts. The shop is committed to being a positive force in the community, and they accept EBT/food stamps to ensure that everyone has access to healthy, sustainable food.
Can you introduce yourself and Friendly Nick’s Butcher to the community?
Howdy, I’m Friendly Nick. I’ve been living here since 2012 when my wife moved out here to finish her Masters at CSU. I like her so I thought I’d come too. I was a chef in a previous life, and after a failed business investment here I wanted to do something that still revolved around food and people but not the insanity that restaurant life brings. Over martinis at Elliot’s my friend suggested that I open a niche grocery store. A few hundred pages of business plans later, it turned into a butcher shop.
We focus on supplying the high end of the meat market. I spent a lot of time developing relationships with amazing local ranchers. I love to work with smaller farms and businesses so our money stays in the community. It also allows me to have more information about how our meat is raised. I felt there was a disconnect between customers and suppliers about where the meat comes from, what it’s fed, how it’s treated, and what impact that has on our environment and community.
These ideals led me to create a shop that pursues whole animal butchery. We bring in several whole cows, pigs, and chickens weekly. Everything gets broken down here in an “open kitchen” style floor plan. I want my customers to be able to see how their meat is treated, how clean the shop is, and develop trust in myself and my staff that we are supplying them with the best possible meat. To that end, I want my customers to have access not only to great meat, but be able to find value in what we do. I believe everyone should have access to healthy, sustainable food. By pursuing whole animal butchery, it allows us to find lesser known, undervalued cuts that can make excellent meals. Not everything has to be a ribeye or tenderloin. It allows me to keep my ground beef prices down so people don’t have to break the bank to access great quality meat. We also accept EBT/food stamps because everyone should have access to good food. Basically, I want my business to be a positive force in the community.
What’s one thing that surprises people about your business?
People are surprised by how many different cuts of meat we have. Whole animal butchery allows us to find and display cuts that you don’t see in big chain grocery stores. They can add value to a meal by offering flavors and textures of more common, and expensive, cuts without the price tag.
What about your work brings you the most joy?
A busy day when everything clicks. When the music is good and my employees are singing. When we all work together and the “dance” around the butcher blocks is smooth. I like my shop to feel like a barber shop, where you go and hang out for a while and eventually leave with something nice.
What’s an underrated cut of meat that you recommend for people to try?
Our pork, all of it. I’ve cooked at some of the nicest restaurants in the country, Michelin starred joints, and I’ve never had pork that was as tender, flavorful, and moist as what we get from Trifecta Natural Pork. Neal is an artist with how he raises those pigs. It’s definitely more expensive than the grocery stores, but all of it is just amazing.
What do you enjoy the most about being a business owner in Fort Collins?
I’m like a C-list celebrity now. Like Carrottop. You’ll see me, but you might not want to talk to me.
Really though, I love the community we’ve built around the shop and the community of other small businesses that help each other out. I’ve had other business owners review my business plans, offer beers and advice, and it helps to have someone to vent to that understands the struggles.
What are some of the challenges facing your business right now?
I mean inflation, supply chain issues, *frustrating governments, pandemics, etc. I also have a toddler and a infant…so time, money, energy, coffee, beer…I need more of all of them. Running a business is relentless. There is always something that needs my attention and the biggest challenge is making myself available to deal with all of the issues and do it while maintaining a positive attitude. I refuse to let the stress of my shop overwhelm me. I want my business to be a fun, pleasant place to work for my employees and myself.
What’s on the horizon for Friendly Nick’s Butcher?
I’d like to start a dry aging program. I’d like to get into dry curing charcuterie. I’d like to bring in more animals (duck, elk, bison, badger, giraffe, all the classics). Maybe branch out into seafood. There are empires to be built if I can find the time and money.
Then a nap.
* The italicized language is revised and not directly quoted. The meaning has been preserved.