Business

From ranch to kitchen table

Loren Angelo Poncia started Stemple Creek Ranch 15 years ago on his family’s land in Tomales, Calif. Business started to pick up about 10 years ago when notable San Francisco Bay area restaurants including Zuni Café and Chez Panisse began purchasing its naturally raised, grass-fed meat. Poncia says the ranch lost 99 percent of its restaurant business in March because of the pandemic. The driver who headed out five days a week to deliver packages of beef, lamb and pork knocked it back to a single day of driving.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

That doesn’t mean the ranch wasn’t busy. The company refocused on direct-to-consumer sales on its website, all hands on deck to pack and ship for online orders. The cuts are different. It’s harder to find homes for the grind and trim and bones, but Poncia says he has 10 times more online orders than before the coronavirus hit. It has required some interesting collaborations.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

The family-owned Golden Gate Meat Co. in Richmond, Calif., services San Francisco taquerias and white-tablecloth restaurants, butchering and processing beef, veal, pork, chicken and wild game for restaurants. Two years ago, the company added a charcuterie program, tinkering with culatello and bresaola, bacon and pastrami. Since the pandemic, the company has launched retail websites, partnering with a produce company, a seafood company and a dairy to offer Northern California consumers an “Amazon-like experience," and launched curbside pickup, says co-owner Justin Offenbach.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Offenbach’s Golden Gate company also has partnered with Stemple Creek Ranch, growing an existing relationship as their business models change. Poncia has his cattle and lambs slaughtered nearby, bringing whole animals to Golden Gate, which does the butchering and packaging, pivoting from the huge cuts that restaurants want to things more manageable for home cooks.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post