The Butchery Finds its Way Home

Owners, Robert Hagopian, left, and Brian Smith.
Owners, Robert Hagopian, left, and Brian Smith.

By Torie Hamilton, Special to the Independent

Steakhouse quality meat is within reach for Laguna Beach residents now that The Butchery’s third location, in Crystal Cove opened earlier this month.

The independent butcher shop, established in 2009, has already made a reputation through its two other locations in Brea and Costa Mesa for offering high-quality meats.

Laguna Beach residents and owners Robert Hagopian and Brian Smith are excited to open within reach of their own community.

After meeting through their children, Hagopian and Smith shared several meals together, but often conversed about the value of quality food, specifically meat. From dinner chatter an idea was born that was brought to fruition with the opening of The Butchery, in Costa Mesa, which has now found its way further south.

“The area, in our opinion, is so starved of quality grocery,” says Hagopian.

There are a variety of factors that play into the quality of the products sold at The Butchery from their sourcing to the age of the meat itself.

“We source from ranches that take great pride in the animals that they raise and take great care in raising these animals in a specific way, which tends towards a much better eating experience,” says Hagopian.

Samples from the Butchery.
Samples from the Butchery.

Beyond that, the breed of beef used is of the utmost priority. The Butchery only sells 100% black angus, which sets it apart from the typical market where customers can never be certain of the breed sold.

In addition to their beef, The Butchery sources their pork from Salmon Creek Farms in Montana and their chicken from Jidori Chicken, a ranch that solely serves Southern California and restaurant customers.

Jessica McLeish, culinary director of Sourced Cuisine, is a firm supporter in the attention to quality that the Butchery achieved through its products.

“Of what I know, their animals have been treated well, grown organically, fed properly—and it really makes a difference in the taste of the meat and it makes a difference in the health of the product for the person eating. I think it’s great they’re here and I hope the community supports them,” says McLeish.

The partners goal is to provide a classic butcher shop experience, with personalized over-the-counter service that caters to a customer base from Corona del Mar, Newport Coast and Laguna Beach.

With three stores and 40 employees, Hagopian and Smith value consistency through every location. However, Crystal Cove will have a higher-end wine inventory, he says.

While The Irvine Company has a reputation as a highly selective landlord, Hagopian says it has been a good experience working with them.

“If you understand the rules of engagement, they’re quite nice to work with because when you need something done, they get it done,” says Hagopian.

Liz McElroy, a North Laguna resident and five-year Butchery customer, is enthusiastic about the shop’s inventory.

“It’s high quality, the meat is phenomenal and the customer service is fantastic,” says McElroy.

Her favorite is the house marinated sirloin steak tip, a top seller in the pre-marinated and grill-ready section. “No matter how poorly you BBQ, you can’t screw up meat from the Butchery,” says McElroy.

Hagopian’s own favorite list includes steaks, prime rib eye and filet that he insists are “hard to beat.” From there, he explains the delicacy of the bone-in-pork chop then ends with the goat cheese Italian sausage.

While the doors opened Nov. 1, a grand opening at The Butchery is planned for Saturday, Dec. 10, 8058 E. Coast Highway. Customers will be able to sample steaks and various other meats as well as artisanal cheeses, savory sauces, craft beer and fine wine.



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  1. If your meat products are good enough to warrant support from Jessica Mc Leish of Sourced Cuisine, they’re good enough for me. Can’t wait to visit the Butchery!


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