DAYTON EATS: Gem City Butchery has big plans

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

With their business just beginning, most people in the region have probably not heard of Gem City Butchery, but if owners Jonathon Mezera and Elliott Harrell have anything to say about it, it’s only a matter of time.

The duo who have been active for several months with their butcher shop and smokehouse concept is working on their third pop-up food event at the end of this month and has recently started catering events.

“The long term plan is to be a meat purveyor to the Dayton area restaurant scene. We can shave labor by removing in-house butchery and providing competitively priced freshly butchered steaks, we could even prep them to exact customer specifications. Custom cuts, roulades, chateaubriand, trussing, curing, we’re into it all. We make custom sausages as well; I recently developed a recipe for an Italian Chicken Sausage for Tony & Pete’s sausage and peppers sandwich, so keep an eye out for that on their menu coming soon. Eventually I would like to see our operation doing whole animal butchery, including providing services to local hunters for deer processing,”said Mezera, chef and co-owner of Gem City Butchery. “I have developed many standard recipes for when the brick and mortar opens, and am working on menus for the butchery, smokehouse, and catering operations. We’re actively looking for a location.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Gem City Butchery will have a pop-up celebrating Oktoberfest at Jollity on Oct. 30 when they’ll be serving up tasty Eastern European food from Noon-3 p.m. Past events have sold-out quickly. To skip the line, pre-orders for pickup are highly recommended.

To pre-order, message them on Facebook or Instagram @gemcitybutchery with your order and what time you would like to pick up your food as well as your email address. They will send you an invoice and once payment is complete you can rest secure in the knowledge that you can say you knew them when (note that your requested pickup time might be full, but they’ll assign the closest slot to it). Jollity will supply the adult beverages, as usual. Dine-in and patio seating are first come, first served. All food will be packed “to go” regardless of ordering in advance or dine in.

The menu for this pop-up features a chicken paprikash ($12) with chicken leg and thigh, onion, tomato, garlic, roasted peppers, paprika, broth and cream; a scratch made all beef frankfurter ($10) with a split top bun, caraway and dill seed sauerkraut and mustard aioli; hand made potato pierogis ($12) stuffed with mashed potato, cream cheese and carmelized onions with sauerkraut and sour cream and a plate of everything, their most popular option, for $35 with paprikash, frankfurter, pierogis, braised cabbage, German potato salad, spaetzle mac and sauerkraut. Scratch made German apple cake ($8) is available for dessert.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

“I started working in restaurants when I was 16 and have been working in them for the last 19 years. I have worked in some amazing places with some amazing chefs, and my experience ranges from corporate casual to business catering to private fine dining,” Mezera said. “In one of my most recent positions, I helped operate Sueno for the first year as the Executive Sous Chef. My business partner Elliott has over 20 years of experience, the majority of that running catering operations, and he and I have worked together at several places as well — that’s how we got to know each other.

“We have both always wanted to be business owners. Speaking for myself, I guess I was ‘waiting for the right time.’ And then the pandemic happened and that didn’t make our goals any easier to reach, and it eventually made me realize that waiting was foolish because, pandemic or not, I could always find an excuse to not start,” Mezera continued. “So in order to make sure our spaces were licensed and inspected we partnered with our best buds at Jollity, who make unbelievably great food, by the way, who lend us their space to do pop-ups, and we rent equipment and professional kitchen space as needed from our friend Don at D&D’s Grill Rental.”

If the 30th doesn’t work for you, Mezera suggests liking and following @gemcitybutchery on facebook and instagram for the latest on upcoming events. Another option is contacting them about catering just about any event you have in mind.

Private upscale dinners for six or more, family meal prep for the week, wedding receptions, family reunions, parties, corporate lunches, private business dinners are all events they say they are happy to help with. Even if you just want to bring a smoked pork butt to a potluck, or a smoked cheesecake, or maybe you need a few pounds of potato salad, a smoked turkey or tied standing rib roast for a holiday, Mezera and Harrell say they are ready to help.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Until their business website is finished, Mezera says they prefer to start a dialogue with customers, and talk to them about their needs, taste preferences, budget, etc. He says they will eventually have an online catering platform customers can use. Direct message them on Facebook or Instagram with questions or requests or e-mail Jon@GemCityGastronomy.com.

“Most of the recipes I have developed myself for the business, with a handful being family recipes. In addition to the butchery and smokehouse retail, we plan to have unique desserts, smoked vegetarian options, a made-to-order lunch counter, and an eclectic catering operation that can tailor any event,” said Mezera. “(Our food) is made with a lot of thought, using high quality ingredients, and not taking shortcuts. When you eat our frankfurter on the 30th at Jollity, you can know it’s a scratch made bun, with scratch made aioli, a hand made frankfurter in a natural lamb casing, and scratch made sauerkraut.”

Mezera says the ultimate goal of the butcher shop and smokehouse concept is furnishing Dayton with high quality proteins, from-scratch dishes, and cooking with what he believes is the best ingredient: smoke.

“As a child, I’d ‘help’ my mom with recipes, meaning she’d let me crack an egg or two and then pick out the shells. But I started asking questions then, like ‘why do you have to cream the butter?’ ‘What does beating the egg do?’ ‘What’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder?’ Eventually my mother let me pick recipes to cook on my own, and I really think that gave me an early understanding of food science. Through my teens and early 20s I played around with recipes, like ‘what would happen if I added six more egg yolks to this custard recipe?’ Or ‘what if I subbed out x ingredient for y ingredient?’ I’m the type of guy that likes to actually see what happens when I intentionally screw it up, it’s the only way to burn those consequences into my mind,” said Mezera. “Good food to me is food that’s made with intention and technique, with each ingredient given attention and treated with respect. Take the time to toast the spices. Let the chicken stock simmer for two days. Salt is a tool as much as it is an ingredient. I love cooking because it doesn’t have any real rules, just consequences.”

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.comwith the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

How to go

What: Gem City Butchery pop-up event at Jollity

Where: 127 E. Third St., Dayton

When: Noon-3 p.m. Oct. 30

Order in advance: This event is likely to sell out. Pre-order directly through Facebook messenger to lock in your order in advance. They will need the customer name, order, preferred pickup time window and e-mail address. Walk-ins are also welcome, but pre-orders are recommended.

Other upcoming events: In addition to hosting the Oct. 30 pop-up, Gem City Butchery will be helping with a Koji Burger pop-up at Jollity on Oct. 23 — check out @Kojiburger_dyt for a menu and more details.

Other places to try their food: Tony and Pete’s (www.tonyandpetes.com) was recently running a sausage and pepper sandwich featuring chicken sausage from Gem City Butchery, provolone, housemade red sauce, caramelized onions and peppers, oregano and parsley served on a garlic toasted hoagie roll from Grist (http://eatgrist.com).

More information: Follow @gemcitybutchery for pop-up announcements and updates

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