New Waimea butcher shop welcomes community, and vice versa

  • Waimea Butcher Shop owner Mills Stovall assists a customer on their first visit to the new store. They opened Feb. 3 and have been busy since the first day. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)
    Waimea Butcher Shop owner Mills Stovall assists a customer on their first visit to the new store. They opened Feb. 3 and have been busy since the first day. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)
  • Waimea Butcher Shop owner Mills Stovall shows a selection of prime meats to a customer on their first visit to the new shop on Friday. They sell a variety of meats and foods from farmers and ranchers who follow strict standards for animal welfare and add no hormones or antibiotics to their product. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)
    Waimea Butcher Shop owner Mills Stovall shows a selection of prime meats to a customer on their first visit to the new shop on Friday. They sell a variety of meats and foods from farmers and ranchers who follow strict standards for animal welfare and add no hormones or antibiotics to their product. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

WAIMEA — On Feb. 3, while almost everyone else in town was getting their pink on for the Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, the new Waimea Butcher Shop quietly opened its doors. At least that’s what they thought would happen.

“We kind of underestimated how busy we would be,” said owner Mills Stovall, who runs the shop with his wife Kamalei. “I thought I could kind of hang out in the back and make sausage and charcuterie, and my wife could be in the front taking orders.”

Offering 100 percent Hawaii Island beef, pork, poultry and lamb, the Stovalls work exclusively with farmers and ranchers who follow strict standards for animal welfare and add no hormones or antibiotics to their product. Their vendors include Lowline Cattle Co., Hawaii Beef Producers, Hawaiian Hogs, Ahualoa Hog Farm, Real Farms for ducks, Puna Chicks for fresh whole chickens, Primal Cuts for lambs, and Kahua Ranch for grass-fed Wagyu beef.

“I go out every week and hang out with the animals,” said Stovall. “We are in a way stewards of these animals. It’s OK to eat them, but we have to treat them with the respect they deserve. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”

Originally from East Texas, Stovall first followed a career in music, earning a degree and traveling to San Francisco for opportunities to sing. It was there he started cooking in a fine dining restaurant to supplement his income and fell in love with it, discovering a passion he didn’t know he had.

“I love food, I love cooking for somebody,” he said. “Food bridges everything. Food is the common thread. You can always break the ice with food.”

He worked with several chefs, including Kelly Rogers in Santa Fe, who convinced him to go to culinary school. He eventually opened a Cajun restaurant with a friend. Then in 1999, his career took a different turn when he came to Hawaii Island.

“I wanted to see the other aspect, where the food comes from,” said Stovall. “I call it ‘seed to table.’”

He worked with various organic farms on the island, and then had the idea to open a butcher shop in Waimea, the heart of cattle country.

Having always been a hunter, with a grandfather who was a game warden, Stovall already knew the basics of breaking down an animal. He started learning as much as possible as quickly as possible, spending time with butchers around the country, including Avedano’s — the renowned 116-year-old San Francisco butcher shop now run by three successful women.

“They’re badass; they’re awesome,” he said.

As a result, the Waimea Butcher Shop became a reality. On a daily basis, they feature fresh, island-raised meats and a menu of sandwiches, chili, soup and hot grab-and-go meats. The shop will soon offer cured meats like corned beef and pastrami.

In addition, almost everything at Waimea Butcher Shop comes from Hawaii Island — 26 different products including cheese, beverages and bread. Looking down the road, they plan to partner with Kamuela Liquor store for special dinner events with wine, beer or whiskey pairings.

“We are a community butcher shop,” said Stovall. “We built this for the town. We want everybody to come in. We’re trying to create memories, so people 40 years from now can say they went to the butcher shop. My daughter Halia might want to run it one day. She’s two and a half, and she already comes in and calls it ‘her’ butcher shop.”

Waimea Butcher Shop is located at 64-1032 Mamalahoa Highway in Kamuela Business Center, and is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Info: Visit www.waimeabutchershop.com or call 657-4178

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