Originally from Franklin County, Virginia, Anthony Johnson grew up helping his grandfather on his 85-acre farm. Johnson would assist with the 300 head of dairy cattle on the farm, and often hunted with his father. He was exposed to the meat industry early on, as his grandfather switched to raising cattle for beef in his later years.
Johnson’s career started at Sam’s Club when he was hired as a tire tech in the Roanoke, Va., store. “Becoming a butcher was an accident,” he admits. “I just did the right thing one day. I left my area and walked around with an elderly woman, talking to her and helping her shop.”
The meat manager noticed, and immediately offered him a cleaning position behind the counter. One week later, Johnson was moved to head cutter in the meat, poultry, and seafood department. Within the next year, he was promoted to the Sam’s Club in Charlotte, NC, where he ran the bakery, produce, and meat departments for nearly three years. His next move was to the Asheville area, where he’s been for the past 16 years. Within his time at Sam’s Club, Johnson traveled between locations, addressed issues at each location, and opened dozens of new stores within the national chain.
Last year, he went to work as the head butcher and general manager at the New York Butcher Shoppe in Arden. Since opening in August of 2019, he has led operations at the market and deli that also sells fresh seafood, wine, grocery items, and prepared meals.
Owner Brenda Bruker notes: “We have remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and are following all local, state, and federal guidelines for sanitizing surfaces, wearing face coverings, and promoting social distancing.”
What’s a perk of having grass- and grain-fed Certified Angus Beef?
We’re unique for having the USDA-inspected Certified Angus Beef, which is not something I thought I’d see after doing this for over 20 years. A lot of our cattle is Western-fed beef, so it doesn’t have to cross any borders. Every cattle is grass fed and finished off as grain fed, which gives the meat a marble look. That marbling, which is intramuscular fat, cooks into the tenderness and enhances the flavor profile tremendously.
Tell me about some of the special items you offer.
We rotate our items based on customer requests and season. Right now, we have Kobe American Wagyu from Snake River Farms in Idaho. They follow Japanese traditions with their cattle … they hand massage each cattle and treat them well. When I get special cuts in, we sell through it quickly. It creates a buttery flavor, and makes it almost fork tender. I use a butter knife to finish cutting it.
You’re not just a butchery…
We also serve sandwiches [Monday through Saturday]. The Cuban is our most popular. It’s hot pressed and has the perfect blend of ham, roasted pork, and Swiss with yellow mustard and pickles. We hand slice every single sandwich right when you order. It might take an extra minute [rather] than running through a drive thru, but it’s worth it. Over all, it’s not just a butcher shop. It’s a one-stop shop.
It must be a big change from the corporate life …
The atmosphere and people are amazing, just a better environment. I want to take my time with customers to make sure that they have a good experience. My staff knows how to cook pretty much everything, so we can teach our customers how to cook their food the right way … no one is left unattended.
New York Butcher Shoppe & Wine Bar (200 Julian Shoals Drive, #10, Arden). The store is open 10am-7pm, Monday-Saturday. For more information, visit their website: newyorkbutcherarden.com. Also on Facebook and Instagram. 828-676-0594.