By Dale Boyd
A new local business is causing a buzz among meat lovers in the South Okanagan, and filling a longstanding void according to the owner.
Black Sage Butcher opened in Oliver last week at 6060 Station St. And to say he’s been busy is an understatement. Just don’t go in there with an empty stomach.
Matt Leyes, originally from Southern Ontario, relocated along with his wife to Oliver from Vancouver about a year and a half ago.
Looking into what kind of business to start, the feedback on starting a butcher shop was “overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
“From all accounts it has been about 20 years since there has been a butcher shop here. There are people who are willing to spend a little more for better quality meats than what is offered here, and they’re at least going to Penticton, if not Kelowna, or saving it up and doing a big shop on the coast,” Leyes said.
Leyes has been a chef for 20 years, starting in fast food when he was in high school, and worked in Vancouver in fine dining for years.
“That was a really good learning experience for me and I ended up in Vancouver working in two different butcher shops,” Leyes said.
He met his wife and business partner, Ravina Johal, as a customer in a small, start-up butcher shop during that time.
The goal is to bring as much local meat into the shop as possible.
“What I’ve found starting out is that farmers are interested and they are happy to hear there is going to be a butcher shop,” Leyes said.
The reality of the business has Leyes currently getting stock from the coast while keeping an eye on shortening the distance between the product and the customer in the future. Just recently, he was contacted to do cutting and wrapping meat slaughtered in Rock Creek.
The community has shown enough interest on social media to prompt a FAQ posted by Leyes to Facebook prior to opening.
“The focus for our shop, and what it should be for any small butcher shop, you come in, you get good service, which means if you don’t like the look of the steak in the case, we can cut you a different one. If you want something a little thicker, a custom roast, anything like that, we can do that for you,” Leyes said. “That’s what we are aiming to do in general is just to be able to provide better service and get people the food they really want.”