By Jamie McAllister
Photos by Jim Pile
When Norfolk entrepreneurs Dylan and Dana Wakefield opened Pendulum Fine Meats in Ghent in 2014, they yanked the neighborhood butcher shop from the edge of extinction while opening up a world of meaty possibilities for Coastal Virginia residents. Their goal is to entice shoppers out of the grocery store and into their butcher shop, where they offer cuts of locally sourced meats from humanely treated animals from farms located no more than a day’s drive from Norfolk.
“We’re a whole-animal butcher shop, meaning the meat we sell is cut right here,” explains Dylan. “It’s an old model that’s not done in this area. We utilize all of the animal, from tip to tail.”
The Wakefields have rigid requirements for the meat they sell in their butcher shop. They only select meat from farmers who treat their animals humanely, meaning the animals have room to roam, diets that are healthy and no force-feeding. They especially like to work with family farms or small, independently-owned farms. Dylan personally visits each farm before purchasing their meats and makes yearly visits to the farmers he chooses to buy from.
“Our goal is to bring fresh, ethically sourced meat to the people of Coastal Virginia,” Dylan says. “We want to make it convenient for them to stop in and buy what they need without having to visit a bunch of different farmers’ markets.”
In addition to staples such as beef, chicken and pork, Pendulum Fine Meats also offers sausage made in house, as well as bacon cured and smoked at the shop. “We are very transparent about our products,” Dylan says. “We go beyond the grocery store because we’ve already done the legwork. We can tell you exactly what you’re getting and where it comes from. We want to make it easier for customers to get meat they can feel good about eating.”
Dylan has a hand in daily operations of the shop, from cutting meat to choosing selections for the shop’s café, which offers a constantly evolving menu of lunchtime sandwich choices. Pendulum Fine Meats also offers a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. For a monthly fee, customers receive a box that contains an assortment of meats as well as recipes and add-ons, such as special rubs or sauces. Each box costs $50 and contains four to six meals for two people. “It’s great for people who like to cook and want the convenience of having everything assembled for them in one place,” says Dylan. The CSA program has become so popular that they are even considering adding a delivery service for members.
The Wakefields chose to name their butcher shop Pendulum Fine Meats because they view the choices each of us makes about food as a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other. “One side of the pendulum is how we want to eat, the other side is how we sometimes have to eat, and most of us strive for a spot in the middle,” Dylan explains. “Our goal with the shop is to provide more local food options to Coastal Virginia residents to help them eat the way they want to eat.”
To learn more, visit PendulumMeats.com.