Sizzling success in Stalbridge

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More than a butcher – Rachael Rowe highlights Else’s vibrant barbecue, hog roast and catering enterprise celebrated for its exceptional quality

Roger Else opened Else Family Butchers on Stalbridge High Street in 1994. Roger’s son Julian and his wife Heidi added a successful outdoor catering side to the butchery 20 years ago, with hog roasts, lamb roasts, barbecues and also sit-down meals for both private and corporate clients. They took over the family business in 2012.
‘Obviously the butchery has always sold barbecue foods,’ says Julian. ‘We’ve recently taken things a step further. Broil King is an American company selling gas, pellet and charcoal barbecues. We’ve started doing demonstrations for them and selling their range. I also give butchery talks for them.’
An impressive barbecue is set up inside the shop, complete with a range of accessories – with the number of bank holiday celebrations this month, this feels like smart marketing.

Inside the Else Family Butchers shop
All images: Rachael Rowe

Butchery and barbecue
Julian says the barbecue standards are his year-round bestsellers – the homemade sausages and burgers don’t wait for barbecue season.
‘But we’ll do a lot of marinades and barbecue packs between now and the autumn. Our ‘3 for £10’ range is always very popular, and we people love our steaks (all hung for a minimum of 28 days). In the summer months the Tomahawk steak is massive hit for barbecues, and ribeye is a particular family favourite all year round. With such a barbecue-friendly core range, it just made sense to sell the barbecues, grills and accessories too.’

Julian Else

Talking hog (roast)
Coincidentally, the BV team members – all attending separately – opted unanimously for an Else’s hog roast pork roll for lunch at the recent Spring Countryside Show. Else’s are a well-known stand at local fairs and events, and the queue is never short for their soft rolls filled with tender roasted pork, mouthwatering crackling, stuffing and apple sauce. It’s always worth the wait.
‘We have just come back from a weekend of hog roasts at Teddy Rocks, the charity three-day music festival in Blandford.’ says Julian. ‘We do a lot of corporate events, shows and we do private parties too. And for people organising their own catering we have the supplies instead – for the coronation weekend, for example, we have a brilliant barbecue pack and 10 per cent off our sausages.
’It’s a simple formula, you just start with the right basic ingredients. For us on the hog roast, that’s locally-produced free range pork. We get ours from Prestige Pork in Taunton. Our lamb is from Thornhill Farm here in Stalbridge. We have west country beef and the bacon comes from Wiltshire. You supporting local farmers.
‘The charcoal for the barbecues is ethical and local too, from Dorset Charcoal (see this month’s A Country Living to learn more).

Else’s year-round bestsellers are their homemade sausages and burgers

Tough in the high street
Looking at the challenges of the business since he took over, Julian says simply staying put has been the most difficult.
‘It is hard to remain on the high street as an independent butcher, with all the competition. People have cut back for sure, everyone’s shopping to a budget now of course. But I would say that people should look at the price per kilo instead of the final price you see in a supermarket. It’s sometimes cheaper in your local butcher’s shop – and you always know exactly what you’re buying! COVID was really good for us, actually, because people had slowed down. They were taking the time to shop locally.
‘We’ve worked very hard over the last 30 years. When you hear the Else name, people associate it with quality food and good service. I’m proud of that. Along the way I’ve had the opportunity to work with my dad – not many people are that lucky.
I’m also really proud of the way Heidi and I work as a team. Since she joined me she’s really taken the catering to the next level.
But it’s the whole team that really makes us what we are – right down to the event servers and those handing out hog roast rolls in a windy field. Our reputation is built by every single member of the team; great service is so important to us. We don’t advertise, all our business is through recommendations.’

Julian now gives demonstrations and butchery talks for Broil King, and sells their range of barbecues and accessories

Else Family Butchers,
High Street, Stalbridge
elsefamilybutchers.co.uk
See latest news and offers on Facebook: Else Family Butchers

Not in Stalbridge…
If you’re not a local to Stalbridge, Else’s also supply some local village shops:
Okeford Fitzpaine
Village Stores
Old Chapel Stores, Buckland Newton
Brewery Farm Shop, Ansty
Robin Hill Stores, Marnhull
Child Okeford Village Shop
Red Barn, Hazelbury Bryan

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