Jenn and Dave Bane plan on staking their claim on New Jersey by opening a series of hometown-style butcher franchises in the state. The Meat House will open its first shop Friday in downtown Summit, and the Banes have signed a developer agreement to open 19 more locations in the next 15 years.
The Meat House describes itself as the modern incarnation of a local butcher, with more products for those with a busy lifestyle. The 6,500-square-foot store will offer a wide selection of prime choice cuts of beef, pork, chicken, veal and fish, along with exotic offerings like kangaroo, boar, ostrich, emu and rattlesnake.
"As long as it's legal, we will be able to get it for you," Dave Bane said.
The stores also offer breads, fine cheeses, fresh produce, prepared side dishes, desserts, gourmet grocery items and, in some cases, a selection of fine wines and craft beers.
Dave Bane left a 20-year Wall Street career to work alongside his wife Jenn, a fitness professional. The Monmouth County couple have been online customers of The Meat House for about eight years, and loved the concept so much, they wanted to bring the franchise to New Jersey.
"I decided to do something different with the second half of my life," Dave Bane said. "We like the food and we think it's a great business, so it seemed like a really good fit."
The Meat House currently has 32 stores in 11 states, with 150 more scheduled to open in the next five to 10 years. The company was founded in New Hampshire in 2003 by lifelong friends Justin Rosberg and Jason Parent; the duo began franchising in 2008.
The Banes will be looking for sites in vibrant downtown areas with abundant and convenient parking — a must, since employees carry bags to the customers' cars.
"There are quite a few great towns we are attracted to as far as the real estate," Dave Bane said. "The educated culinary population who have busy lifestyles will really enjoy a store like The Meat House."
Personalized service will be the focus, where as a local butcher would, the managers will get to know customers by name, remember what they like and make suggestions specifically for them.
"The level of customer service is what will really win over the community," Jenn Bane said.
Though The Meat House is a franchise, about 40 percent of what the store sells comes from local vendors.
"The trust factor of the food supply is a bonus," Dave Bane said. "The fish comes from local day boat fishers. When you buy a piece of fish, I can tell you not only the captain's name, but the boat's name and when it was caught."