If you’re like me, you make a beeline for Red Apron Butchery whenever you visit the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market, as if pulled by primal forces to the wide variety of meats on sale at Nathan Anda’s stand. Of course, sometimes I’ll rise too late on Sundays and miss an object of particular tastiness, like Anda’s Creme de Cochon, which may get gobbled up before I arrive.
Those days will soon be coming to an end. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group, owner of Red Apron, has finally announced long-awaited plans to open a bricks-and-mortar location to showcase Anda’s meaty skills. Red Apron is tentatively scheduled to debut this fall at 709 D St. NW, in Penn Quarter.
“It has taken four years to find the spot that we really wanted,” Anda said during a phone interview this afternoon. The complication had always been the amount of space needed, he said; the location had to be large enough to accommodate not only a retail space and restaurant but also a production facility.
But then NRG owner Michael Babin decided to build a commissary/production facility at 550 Penn St. NE, where Anda and his team will butcher whole animals and smoke, ferment and/or cure them into finished products beginning in late spring or early summer. That freed NRG to look for a smaller retail location with the desired foot traffic and residential density.
The 3,600-square-foot retail space will offer all the usual items available online, at Planet Wine and at the farmers markets where Red Apron sells half-smokes, hot dogs, pates, dry sausages, duck rillettes, slab bacon and many other products. The bricks-and-mortar space will also sell fresh cuts of beef, pork and lamb, each fabricated from whole animals at the NRG commissary. The cuts will include the obvious ones — tenderloins, rib-eyes, strip steaks — plus off-cuts and, for adventurous home cooks, even offal.
In all, Anda expects to sell almost 80 products. The former Tallula chef also plans to create small menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering his hand-crafted hot dogs or sandwiches prepared from his cured meats or sausages.
Red Apron’s advantage over more-conventional butchers will be that Anda can transform any unwanted/unsold cuts into pates and terrines for the many restaurants in the NRG family, which includes Vermilion, Birch & Barley/ChurchKey and Evening Star Cafe.
With the new commissary and the retail location, Anda expects production to increase significantly at Red Apron, which means he’ll need a steady supply of pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. He’s still lining up suppliers but doesn’t expect problems.
“Now that we have this property and the production facility, we get to go back to all these farmers and get the ball rolling” on securing animals, Anda says.
He’ll need even more soon. NRG spokeswoman Megan Bailey says the company already has signed a lease to open a second Red Apron Butchery in the Mosaic District, a mixed commercial and retail development rising in Merrifield.