10 Oct 2018
It’s amazing what can happen when a business is able to streamline all of its production under one roof. The work is more efficient, challenges that arise are resolved more quickly and it means a higher quality product for the customer. That has been the result for Dakota Butcher in Watertown, South Dakota, thanks to the addition of a brand new smokehouse.
The local, family-owned butcher shop has built a solid reputation around the region since the grand opening in 2009. Owner Randy Gruenwald explained that earning trust was a vital component of the business. “I think our consistency is a big reason why our customers keep coming back, and why many are willing to travel longer distances to get our products,” Gruenwald says. “All of our meat is processed, cut and wrapped on-location. People know that when they buy from Dakota Butcher, they’re feeding their family a high quality steak, ham or pork chop. We’re proud of that reputation.”
Dakota Butcher earned its strong reputation. But to continue expanding, it needed more than just a solid name. It needed more capital. The REED Fund was able to provide that in 2017, and help Dakota Butcher move the base of its operations to a brand new smokehouse. The 8,200-square-foot building includes a processing room, separate wrapping room, and multiple coolers and freezers. The smokehouse is located near its Watertown West retail shop.
Gruenwald said that one of the benefits of moving operations to the new smokehouse has been more financial freedom. With help from REED, Dakota Butcher no longer had to invest the majority of its working capital into multiple facilities. Instead, the company could focus on producing more meat and creating even more efficient systems.
Since opening the smokehouse, Dakota Butcher has been able to grow its footprint substantially. In addition to its three retail shops, its meat is now sold in at least 15 other stores around the region.
The butcher shop also used the extra cash flow to hire more employees. Dakota Butcher started with three employees in 2009, and eventually grew to 30 as the business became more successful. Now, the business has 60 full and part-time workers. Gruenwald says the biggest beneficiary of the smokehouse is the customer. “We can do so much more in this smokehouse. Since everything is happening in one location, high-quality is even more guaranteed than it was before.”
The increased profits have Gruenwald thinking about what else Dakota Butcher can offer its customers. The shop has three retail locations: Watertown East, Watertown West, and a store in Clark. The east side location also offers products including sandwiches, salads and deli meats.
“We’re still evolving and learning as we expand,” Gruenwald explained. “We’re seeing that people like having that ‘fresh market’ option. We’d like to offer more of that in the future.”
The company also operates Dakota Butcher Wine & Spirits at its east side location. But Gruenwald says the name will soon change to Dakota Butcher Steakhouse. “We realized that customers were coming in more for the smoked rib, steaks and hors d’oeuvres than they were for alcohol. That’s why we’re dedicated to growing that location to be much more than just a coffeehouse or pub.”
Dakota Butcher is planning to open a fourth retail shop in the spring of 2019. The destination Gruenwald has in mind is in the city of Brookings, about 50 miles south of Watertown. “We’re figuring out the right concept and we’re going to run with it.”
You can check out Dakota Butcher’s meat offerings as well as the restaurant menu at its Watertown East shop by clicking here.