“This is basically a Carlton Farms/Macrina/Swinery-cooked sandwich,” James Dillon grins as he hands over a plate of Carolina-style pulled pork and tangy slaw hugging the edges of its buttery bun.
James fell into ownership of The Swinery when its founder Gabriel Claycamp left abruptly in 2010. At the time, James was running a successful construction company while investing in the sustainable butcher shop. Despite The Swinery’s rocky start, business has been booming since the change in ownership.
“It’s been a tremendous uphill learning experience for me,” James explains of life in the food business. “I’m in a whole other universe. Fortunately for me, the product was always really good. All we had to do was basically understand what the costs were to run it and how to train a proper crew.”
According to James, the current crew is really into what they’re creating, which is evident upon entering The Swinery. Customers are greeted by silver steel pig and a jar of bacon-spiked caramels. A butcher case displaying a parade of locally-sourced meat leads to a blackboard menu of meaty sandwiches, all served on our toasted Brioche. At the back of the shop rests a fridge stocked with tubs of bacon chocolate chip cookie dough and farm-fresh eggs.
James and The Swinery team take pride in their sustainable meat business, roasting whole Carlton Farms pigs, shelling out Mad Hatcher eggs by the dozen, and teaming up with Painted Hills Natural Beef for their prized pig – or, shall we say cash cow – the Swinery Burger. And, lest you forget the name of the place, these guys will gladly top any of their sandwiches with bacon or pork belly, naturally.
“The pig represents probably one of the greatest things the animal world gave us, because you can eat the whole thing. You can eat it nose to tail, and I’ve eaten it nose to tail.”
Don’t believe him? Order the Swinery Spectacularrr, a towering feast that puts James’ theory and the crew’s skill to the test.
With meat-centric diets trending and more people interested in where their food comes from, The Swinery has carved out a nice piece of the market. Their courtyard, also known as the Inner Sanctum of the Temple of Porcine Love, sees a rotating ensemble of meat enthusiasts, from the regulars who can’t resist the Spectaclularrr’s siren song to the Paleo crowd who just wants 10 pieces of crispy, smoked pork belly.
Bring a healthy appetite, your stretchiest pants, and some time to take it all in.
“You gotta be careful,” James says, eying our empty plates. “I’m going to put up a sign that says, ‘The Home of Slow Eating.’”