Stephane Sauve knows his customers' appetite is constantly changing. So too is his Glebe Meat Market.
The 59-year old butcher and owner of Glebe Meat Market is a creative entrepreneur, adept at keeping up with the times.
Glebe Meat Market is one of the oldest businesses in the city. It's been on Bank street so long, it seems as if the neighbourhood grew up around it. Inside, it looks like an old butchery, with men and women in white blood-stained gowns cutting and displaying prime ribs, chickens, sausages and pork chops on display in the refrigerator cases. There might even be a little sawdust on the floor.
But behind the scenes, Sauve and his staff can often be found downstairs in their kitchen, creating new dinner dishes and take-away meals for their time-constrained customers. i.e. Modern people who don't have time, the appetite, nor the inclination to cook.
Studies show consumption of beef was on the rise until the pandemic. Since then, poultry and fish is up, beef is way down. Sauve's trying to stay one step ahead of a volatile marketplace.
“My father used to sell two tons of beef liver a week in the 1970s,” Sauve says. “Today, we can't sell two ounces. Dad used to throw chicken wings in the garbage because nobody ate them. Today, we sell out. Tastes change, we have to keep up.”
“People eat differently today than when I was growing up,” the 59-year old butcher adds. “My customers like variety. The customers shop like Europeans. They buy everyday on their way home from work, ask for different cuts. Customers come here because they know they'll find something new, and I'll show them how to cook it.”
Sauve started adding prepared meals began in the 1990s when he began selling his grandmother's pies. The store had a hard time keeping up with demand. So, Sauve hired two in-house chefs to make soups, cassoulets, stews, lasagnas, cabbage rolls, tourtieres and pies in the kitchen downstairs. He makes and sells more than 2,000 lbs. of haggis every January for Robbie Burns Day.
“It's become one of our most successful products,” he says. “I have a customer in Halifax who buys three haggises for $70, and pays $170 for the shipping.”
He's developing more meals for take-away including beef stroganoff, mac-and-cheese, butter chicken and moussaka. You'll find a menu on the website www.glebemeatmarket.ca
“I think prepared meals are going to become the future because people don't have time anymore and the younger generation don't know how to cook,” he explains. “People want delicious food they can heat and eat.”
Of course, meat is still Sauve's core business. Glebe Meat Market carries hard-to-find cuts you can't find in the big grocery stores; skirt steaks, flatirons, and tri-tips. His meat is all local and graded triple-A.
“I get the best meats available,” he says. “I've been dealing with the same farms for 40 years. It's superior to what you get in a grocery store, which often sources their meat from the U.S. ”
Stephane grew up in the meat business. His father Andre bought the business in 1975. Stephane began working when he was 13 years old, learned how to do everything in the shop and bought the business in the 1990s.
A self-described “people person”, he continues to work 12-hour days, helping customers, particularly younger customers not used to cooking for themselves.
“I love to make people happy and learning their cooking methods,” he says. “Ottawa is such a multi-cultural city, I'm constantly learning new cooking techniques. This is my happy place.”