A business that opens with a unique concept seemingly has the market cornered, but success isn’t as simple as doing something no one else is doing. When you open with a unique concept, your success depends on your ability to educate your customer base.
Moriarty Meats is one example of a business that has pulled off this difficult trick. When the boutique butcher shop opened in early 2018, many people in Western New York weren’t used to the idea of whole animal butchery. Almost four years later, Moriarty Meats has built up a knowledgeable customer base, and owners Tom and Caitlin Moriarty recently expanded their concept with a different location and new cafe bar.
Recently speaking with us, Caitlin Moriarty said she’s seen her customers become more educated over the past few years and they regularly go to the butcher shop for cuts of meat you can’t get at the supermarket.
“We now see people coming in and asking for items that they bought previously that maybe they didn’t know before we opened,” she said. “Sometimes, they’ll describe the product because they don’t remember the name of it. I feel like the more our regular customers learn, the more they’re interested in learning.”
Located in the old Vino’s on Elmwood Avenue near Amherst Street, the new cafe bar is a natural extension of the butcher shop’s unique concept, Caitlin added.
“Whole animal butchery is based on using everything and minimizing waste,” she said. “The café bar gives us another avenue for using various cuts of meat, as well as exposing people to some different stuff.”
Whole animal butchery is a concept that requires a certain degree of culinary mastery. Co-owner Tom Moriarty, Cailtin’s husband, is a classically trained chef and butcher who spent years in Europe learning both trades. While this background gives him the knowledge to teach his customers, it also gives both the butcher shop and cafe bar a strong Continental influence. The most visible example of this influence is the massive tapas case that greets customers when they walk into the restaurant. That kind of display may not be common around here, but it’s quite common in Spain, where Tom learned how to become a butcher.
“We don’t want to put ourselves in a box, but certainly our tapas case is influenced by Europe,” Caitlin said. “We love that feeling of walking into a bar and having the visual appeal of seeing food right away, and the new cafe definitely has Tom rediscovering some of his cookbooks from Spain and France.”
The tapas case is an attraction. Typically, it holds little bites like marinated olives, chickpea salad or homemade head cheese. In addition, there’s a regular menu that features bistro-styled fare, including takes on a classic cheeseburger, beef on weck and a sausage platter.
If you’re looking to make it a boozy lunch, there are currently four different wines by the glass and a few different bottles of beer. Those looking to avoid alcohol can choose from tea, soft drinks, sparkling water and espresso drinks.
Having a maximum capacity of around 30 people, the cafe bar can feel quite cozy. This of course is in keeping with the larger Continental concept. Europeans are famously more comfortable in close quarters than us Americans. We tend to have bigger demands when it comes to personal space.
In another nod to Europe, the cafe bar has bar tables without stools that are meant for grabbing a quick bite on the go.
“We don’t know yet how it’ll translate,” Caitlin said. “That quick cafe experience is not so common around here, but it is on major streets in a European city.”
If you’re hoping to pop into the new cafe bar for a bit of the old country, try to keep your phone in your pocket. The Moriartys are encouraging customers to go phone-free for their visit.
“We’ve personally found it more satisfying to have moments without our phone,” Caitlin said. “It’s not like I’m going to take a phone out of somebody’s hand, but we want the vibe of people enjoying each other and being present while doing so.”
Hours at the time of publishing:
- Cafe bar: Wednesday 11a.m. – 2 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Butcher shop: Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.