The first thing Lisa Nichols, who owns The Modern Butcher with partner/fiancé Warren Means, wants everyone to know is that the pair did not want to leave Newburyport – and they are ready to open a second location in town as soon as the opportunity presents itself. In fact, they are checking out new spaces all the time.
“Whenever something pops up, we’re ready,” Nichols says. “Our goal always was to stay in Newburyport, but because of circumstances, we had to look elsewhere. The reality is there is very little commercial real estate in Newburyport.”
The Modern Butcher has been a welcome addition to the city, offering meat sourced exclusively from farms within 150 miles of the North Shore, and butchering whole animals in-house. Pork chops, unique cuts of beef and even chicken breasts have gained a reputation for freshness, moistness, and sheer deliciousness. Their sausage selection, with new varieties every Friday, has quickly became legendary. Flavors like Hangover Breakfast, black garlic butter with smoked gouda, and Dim Sum, took off like a shot, enabling the couple to use every bit of every animal in a creatively delicious way.
And don’t get us started on the sandwiches – lines start forming every Saturday morning well before Modern Butcher opens its doors for the famous roast beef three-way, made from heaping piles tender sous-vide cooked meat.
The new location, a former Dunkin’ Donuts in downtown Danvers, is more than double the size of their tiny shop on Merrimac Street, where whole pigs and cows had to be hauled in through the front door and maneuvered past refrigerated display cases. Nichols, who grew up in Danvers, says the central location will be well worth the drive for Newburyport-area fans, with more prepared foods – including standouts like their Bolognese sauce, more charcuterie, and more sandwiches. You can even stay awhile, since the restaurant will have counter seating.
“It will become like an extension of our kitchen,” Nichols says. “That’s what I always wanted –for customers to be sitting on a stool while we’re slicing something, so we could say, ‘Here, you want to try it?’ Like when you’re a kid and the guy at the deli gives you a piece of American cheese … only we’d give you some bresaola that we made.” Visitors will be able to sit and watch Means break down a whole animal carcass – then ask for advice on what to have for dinner.
The small seating area will also enable guests to enjoy a charcuterie platter, or eat a sandwich in house, perhaps with a choice from their carefully curated beer and wine selection–a liquor license is in the works. Since in Nichols’ other life she explores cult-favorite craft brews at @porkandpintsboston on Instagram, the beer selection is likely to be among the finest in the region.
Just want lunch? The battle for their famous sandwich of the day will no longer be like trying to get tickets to a Taylor Swift concert – Nichols says they will have several offerings, with a few popular options like the Italian Job, loaded with hot capicola, salami, pepperoni, fried mortadella, provolone cheese, and salt and vinegar potato chips—permanently on the menu.
The Modern Butchers expect to debut in the new spot at 36 Maple St. in early March, with the Newburyport location staying open through February. Count on Nichols to have some amazing Super Bowl LVII offerings to help you eat your feelings about the Patriots’ elimination.