West Side Beef has never had it’s own address. It has always operated out of restaurants and has been owned and run by Richmond Station for years. Same owners, same butchers, same space.
So, how does WSB fit into the kitchen at Richmond Station?
Well, it barely does. All of the butchery for both WSB and the restaurant is done inside a 7’x11’ fridge on a six foot butcher block by a small team of skilled cutters. From a space point of view, the kitchen and butchery fridge is bursting at the seams. When a busy week for WSB combines with a busy week at the restaurant, our butchers can process up to 2000lbs of meat and fish. That’s a lot for 77 square feet.
Space issues aside, there are benefits to running West Side Beef out of Richmond Station. The beef, chicken and pork for both are bought from the same farmers. This gives us a little more buying power but also offers sustainability for the producer. Small farms are small businesses and cash flow is important for any business. When our farmers know that we will consistently buy whole animals the way that we do, it offers them sustainable and consistent cash flow that makes a big difference for their businesses. Most of our beef right now comes from Wallace Farms. Alan and Janice Wallace have been raising cattle start to finish on their farm for decades. They have a very nice, small scale operation and know every little thing about every animal they raise. West Side Beef and Richmond Station combined, we buy everything they produce. They know that we pay a premium price and ask for a premium product and our relationship is fantastic.
The cooks at Richmond Station appreciate it as well. Every cook I have ever worked with wants to learn how to butcher. Being able to properly butcher is a dying skill in the restaurant world and Richmond Station is the only restaurant I know of in Toronto that exclusively buys whole animal. That we also bring in whole animals to butcher for West Side Beef gives more of our cooks more opportunity to learn the craft, especially when working next to Ryan Donovan. We now have 8 cooks on staff that can butcher any animal from head to tail and a dozen more waiting for their turn with the cleaver.
Maybe one day West Side Beef will have to grow into it’s own space, but what will never change is that the meat you are getting delivered to your front door is the exact same thing that we buy to serve our guests at Richmond Station.