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“The most important thing is that nothing is changing.” That’s Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe co-owner Kate Kavanaugh on what’s happening—or rather, not happening—to her locally-focused, whole animal meat shop in LoHi.
But while nothing may be changing at Western Daughters from a customer standpoint, there’s a big change coming for co-owners Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss: The couple bought a 65-acre farm in Salem, New York, and they’re moving east in early February.
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“We’re not changing our [shop’s] sources, products, values, or customer service,” she stresses. “It’s not even changing ownership.”
Kavanaugh and Curtiss will continue as primary owners of the butchery business, staying involved in the overarching operations like animal sourcing and maintaining social media accounts, while general manager Amanda Demo will join as partner and run the day-to-day shop activities. Customers shouldn’t notice a difference, Kavanaugh says, as she and Curtiss have been slowly moving to behind-the-scenes work over the past year.
Western Daughters opened in late 2013 with the mission of positively changing the local food system, one responsibly-raised and -sourced animal at a time. Kavanaugh, after all, is a former vegetarian, so taking good care of the animals and making the most of them isn’t just lip service. Of the shop, she says that she and Curtiss experienced ups and downs over the past six years, but one thing remained steadfast—the community of customers, farmers, and ranchers that rose up around it.
“We chose to keep [the shop] because of the community,” Kavanaugh says. “Over the last six years, we’ve put $3.5 million directly back into the pockets of farmers and ranchers. When we talk about grassroots movements to change our food system, it has to involve financial systems for farmers and ranchers. I like to think that [Western Daughters] is a part of our foodshed here in Colorado, and it’s an important space where customers can connect with where their food is grown.”
Kavanaugh was emphatic about not opening another butcher shop in New York, but she’s excited about starting a regenerative farm, growing food, and raising animals that fit into that local ecosystem. Look for the couple—along with their Salem-produced maple syrup and other farm treats, depending on where the land takes them—to make surprise appearances in the LoHi shop.
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