Ryan Boon and his skilled butchering team wear black ties and caps. At their recently opened De Warenmarkt premises, meat from Polish fridges is cut to order at oak counters. They offer meat know-how and cooking tips.
YN: How did your business start?
Ryan: I’ve been a butcher since I was 15. I’m now 32. My father-in-law has a farm in the Karoo. He had excess venison biltong and asked if I could help move it. I was working at a butchery so I sold biltong in my spare time for two years. In October 2012 I opened a Ryan Boon Paarl distribution centre with my wife Soné.
YN: Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
Ryan: Our butchery is in De Warenmarkt, a refurbished space alongside some of the oldest buildings in the Stellenbosch CBD. De Warenmarkt was opened in mid-July 2015 by Am I Collective design agency. There were plans to lease the space to Burger King, so Am I Collective decided to do something more respectful of the building’s heritage.
YN: How did you find your premises?
Ryan: They found me. Am I Collective approached artisan producers who would add value to the community. We supply top restaurants, so it was word of mouth. We’ve operated at our Paarl distribution centre for three years and were looking for a retail opportunity. We want this to be a place where artisans show off produce with a permanent footprint. Ryan Boon is an anchor tenant.
YN: Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
Ryan: Stellenbosch is a very old town with lots of rugby players, farmers and generally large men – Afrikaans men in particular are often associated with eating a lot of meat. We butcher in an old-school way using ethically farmed meat, much of it local. We’re trying to bring class and authenticity back to butchery.
YN: Who are your neighbours?
Ryan: Deluxe Coffee, The Olive or Twist bar (cocktails, gins and beers on tap), a pop-up restaurant by chef Nic van Wyk, a waffle and crepe counter, and Mano’s Bakery (artisan breads).
YN: What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
Ryan: Rent is about R300 to R350 per square metre inclusive of VAT.
YN: What is your shop footprint?
Ryan: Our customers are people who know what they like and who understand the value of ethical meat. The large-basket spenders are the business- and homeowners in the immediate vicinity. Students buy biltong/droewors and maybe one steak. We get about 100 people in and out of the shop on Saturdays and less on the weekdays.
YN: Do you have any expansion plans?
Ryan: We’re expanding our Paarl distribution centre. In April we will open a boutique concept store butchery that is similar to De Warenmarkt in Franschhoek.
YN: Do you operate online as well?
Ryan: We don’t offer meat orders with online payments yet, but you can email your order for real-time collection or delivery. We have a “meat club” WhatsApp group for Cape Town deliveries to private clients.
YN: What are your most popular items?
Ryan: Our bone-in ribeye and sirloin, and certified Karoo-meat-of-origin free-range lamb with full traceability. And our half or whole Karoo lamb specials at stupidly competitive prices. We sold 15 lambs last weekend.
Ryan Boon Speciality Butcher
Words: Kim Maxwell
Photos: Russel Wasserfall and supplied