The Blind Butcher Is Already A Darling. But, For The Team Behind It, It’s Just The Next Step.
After months upon months of build-up and anticipation, The Blind Butcher finally opened its doors along Lower Greenville early last week.
And, though it was meant to be a quiet opening affair, it really wasn’t: Foodie types of all sorts have consistently flooded the establishment during its 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. open hours since the spot made its debut last Monday night — this even as the owners have openly stated that their kitchen won’t be open until some point in early February and that plans to open the back patio won’t be set into motion until some time after that.
No matter: Local media’s been all over the story all the same. Seems everyone around the region has covered the meat- and beer-focused establishment’s opening in at least some capacity to this point.So why all the coverage? The wait deserves some of the credit, to be sure; initially, The Blind Butcher was said to be opening at some point in 2013 and, well, we media types love us some set dates. But, certainly more so, it’s the stacked roster behind the joint’s operations that is acting as the Blind Butcher’s main point of interest.
Deservedly so: The Blind Butcher’s five-man team includes Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House masterminds and former Vickery Park owners Matt Tobin and Josh Yingling, former Vickery Park manager and bartender Tony Bricker, former Village Marquee sous chef Oliver Sitrin and 44Build owner Ryan Chaney — guys with tons of experience around town and guys with reputations for being fairly particular when it comes to operations.
Hence, they say, the reason for the wait in the first place.
“Once you’re open, you’re not going to go back to fix things and make repairs,” Bricker says. “So, [you] get it done before [opening] and, if it takes a little bit longer, then it takes longer.”
Adds Yingling: “We’re very much the [kind of] people who believe ‘Do you want it right do you want it right now?’ We will take as long as we have to in order to get it right, [so that] when we open it looks like we’ve been doing it for a minute a two.”Truth be told, Yingling says he and his team never had any opening dates in mind: “[The media] pushed dates on me,” he says. “I told them we’ll be open when we’re open.”
Now that the spot is open, however, it appears as if this mindset has paid off. Soon as you walk inside the newly-opened space, you’re struck by its aesthetically pleasing look and laid-back vibe — and the fact that this team, just maybe, knows what it’s doing.
Chaney designed the space by attempting to bring back the original look and feel of the building, which boasts a history that dates back to the 1920s. He did some research by visiting bars in New York, too, taking inspiration in their authentic, vintage settings.
As for the laid-back feel that the space exudes, well, that probably has more to do with this ownership group’s modesty than anything.
“We’re all pretty confident in what we do, but we’re not afraid to do the dirty stuff,” Bricker says. “If the toilet’s clogged, it doesn’t matter if you’re an owner; you’re gonna pick up a plunger and go unclog the toilet because that’s what you have to do.”
Of course, Bricker may end up doing that more than some of his cohorts. He’ll be in charge of the day-to-day operations at the Blind Butcher. Sitrin, meanwhile, will run the kitchen, and Yingling and Tobin will “pepper” themselves in from time to time, but will mostly tend to the goings-on across town at Goodfriend.
“With the group that’s here,” Yingling says, “we’re all smart enough and we’ve kind of been doing this long enough to have a lot of faith in ourselves and what we do.”
The team also places a lot of faith in Sitrin — and they hope that their diners to do too at this point, as Sitrin’s not spilling too many details on his plans, other than to say that he’s inspired by all cuisines, that he enjoys butchering and that he absolutely loves meat.
“We’re gonna have fun with the menu,” Sitrin says. “We’re gonna hand-crank our own sausages. Local ingredients and preserving our local community of the supply chain in meat and produce will be key in development of the menu. As much as possible, [we’ll be] using the local things that we have here, the stuff that’s grown here.”
So, no, maybe the Blind Butcher team isn’t really reinventing the wheel or bringing anything too new to the table. But they know that. And they just hope they execute those aspects better than most might.
“You can get a really good beer or cocktail anywhere in town,” Yingling says. “What shines from that [point on] is everything being good. We want everything to be good. And that comes down to the service — and simple quality more than anything else.”That’s the whole idea behind the Blind Butcher, to hear the guys tell it. Well, that and the fact that a chance meeting that Yingling and Tobin had with Billy Caruso and Drew Curren, the owners of Austin bar Easy Tiger, during a beer trip to New York led them toward a model along these lines.
“They were rad guys,” Tobin says. “They were a lot like us. We just ended up hanging out a bunch. The gist of the situation is that sausage and beer is an awesome combination.”
Inspired, Tobin and Yingling rounded up the rest of their crew, introduced their meat-and-beer concept and started along this new journey — one that Tobin, who acts in many ways like the glue of the group, believes can only reach a successful destination because of the collective assembled.
“We’re [each[ very good at one particular thing, but we believe it takes a group, really, to conquer and do all the things that we want to do,” Tobin says. “With the five of us together, we feel like we have all our pieces in place.”
And for more ventures than just the Blind Butcher. Already, the team has two more projects in the works: In the coming year, they also hope to open an off-site kitchen for their restaurants (one which will be closed to the public), as well as a package store by Goodfriend that will focus on craft beer. It’s a lot to tackle, perhaps, but the team in place has big aspirations and a desire to become a force to be reckoned with in the Dallas restaurant and bar scene — in an even greater sense than their impressive reputations already merit.
“It’s bigger than The Blind Butcher,” Tobin says. “It’s bigger than the commissary. It’s bigger than the package store. It’s bigger than Goodfriend. We want to get to a point where we can locate a property, bid it, negotiate the lease, build it, formulate the menu and operate it from the ground up. There are other groups in town that are doing that same thing. But, with our level of experience and how long we’ve all been doing this stuff, I really think that there’s almost no limit to what we can accomplish if we’re doing it together.”