Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants Moves To Woodstock
We caught up with Andy and Nicole Fenner, owners of Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Cape Town, South Africa’s first ethically-sourced, free-range meat butchery. Having just moved locations from town to Woodstock, they showed us around the new space. They’ve been a busy pair, as they’re also one-third of the FFMM x ASH x Publik team opening a new restaurant in their old butchery premises in Church Street.
What can you tell us about the new space?
|The plan for this space was very much to have a purpose built butchery where we make everyone’s lives a lot easier. Initially, we weren’t even going to have a retail store here, but after spending some time in Woodstock and the space, we decided that a small retail element would be a great addition. We’ve really enjoyed being in the area, there is a lot changing around us – we’re hopefully going to be able to host a few events here in summer. The space is basically our HQ and will handle all of our production. We will use it to smoke bacon, make sausages, dry age beef, cure biltong, etc. It’s also the outlet where you can come in and have a chat to any of our blockmen about specific cuts you’re after.|
How did you know when you had found the right premises and what was it like setting up shop in Woodstock?
We looked at this building to rent ages ago, and then asked the agent if the owners would ever consider selling, at first he said no and then after another couple of months looking the agent came back to us to say that the owners would maybe consider…
As mentioned, we are actually really loving the area and our new neighbors have all been super friendly. We wanted to keep the attachment with the process of selling meat and the customers. We could have found a cheaper building in an industrial area but we never saw that as an option. We never want to just churn out meat without stopping to think about the job we are doing. It’s not about volumes for us. Having customers there to show the product to is important and creating a space where the meat and the butchers are celebrated is a big part of the Woodstock building.
How did it feel leaving Church Street?
Really scary, when we first moved in there we honestly thought that we would be there for a couple of years. We outgrew the space way quicker than we anticipated. It’s the end of something, but the beginning of something else entirely. Church Street will always be a special site for us and we are excited about the collaboration(s) we’ve got up our sleeve for that project.
What was the design and decor inspiration for the new store?
Because the space is purpose built we wanted to maintain the industrial feel, while still making sure the brand identity comes through. It’s also a space where we feel we could have a lot more fun and not be taken too seriously. The meat was always going to be visible – we are unapologetic about what we do every day. We also wanted to mix authenticity with a bit of our own aesthetic.
In terms of designing the new spot, was there anything you wanted to improve on or do differently from Church Street?
Haha yes, we have learnt a lot in three years. The most important elements were a bigger cold room and a hoist system to get carcasses in. All of the really unsexy things that are actually the most important. Like fat traps. Forget having a cool shop, you need a functional, efficient one.
What’s your favourite thing about the space?
I really love the wooden beams, we didn’t know they existed until we started taking the old ceiling out. There’s also the facade. It’s a huge statement that we have arrived and want to take this whole thing to the next level.
You’ve spent a lot of time and energy promoting the cause of free-range, ethical meat. How do you think it’s now being received? Do you feel like the support is growing for it as you outgrow each premises?
I think people are definitely becoming more aware of where their food comes from, people are starting to ask questions, which is really great. The movement is topical and it’s gaining steam but we still have a long way to go. Part of any site we choose is the understanding that education will always play a big role. The more we can incorporate this into the design, the better.
What has been the most rewarding thing about embarking on this journey of ethical meat activism?
The chance to change the way one single person thinks about meat. It’s not easy getting someone to relook a category that they already think they know. If we can change the way someone approaches meat we’ve done our job. And that’s hugely rewarding.
As one-third of the FFMM x ASH x Publik collab, how has it been to be a part of the restaurant-opening process?
Being involved in two massive building projects has been a pretty fu*king dumb idea, to be honest. It’s been incredibly hectic. But, as both of them near completion, it’s hard not to feel a huge sense of pride. I feel like we have ‘backed the jockey not the horse’ with the collab. In other words, we’ve got a killer team. We wouldn’t have done something this crazy with anyone else.
|Once the (literal) dust settles, what is next for Frankie Fenner?
A holiday would be good.
Find Frankie Fenner at 143 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock and at Palmyra Junction.