Gourmet food producers possible at 1401 Marshall?

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Mike Phillips knows his pigs, and believes that “Minnesotans know their meats.” Each region of the world produces distinctive flavors, the chef and “salumiere” said, and his idea for a dry-cured pork product processing facility depends on people valuing that difference and choosing local products.

Three Sons Meat Co., Phillips’ business, is the first of several complementary businesses that Kieran Folliard hopes to collect, with his 2 Gingers Whiskey brand offices, all angling to locate at 1401 Marshall St. NE. Like the last proposal for that site (a Tires for Less retail store, service center and warehouse), it would require a change in zoning or a conditional use permit, so they came to Sheridan Neighborhood Organization Aug. 27 to discuss it.

(Tires for Less has “opening soon” signs in the Hannay’s Marine building at 18th and Central avenues NE.)

Folliard and Phillips said so far, City of Minneapolis zoning staff have told them they need light industrial zoning, because there’s nothing on the books currently that really fits their idea. Neighbors who addressed the issue said they favored a conditional use permit rather than a rezoning, in order to not be open to problems later if this group leaves.

At the time, Folliard was close to having a purchase agreement and working on due diligence, figuring out all of the factors in whether purchasing 1401 Marshall would be feasible.

The meat products include USDA-certified pork processed into salami, dry-cured ham, pancetta, coppa and related items. The source pigs are “heritage bred” and free-range from local farmers. “We’re working to develop feeds that produce the right fat content,” Phillips said. Barley, for example, is good, and one of the farmers is planting it for himself and other farmers.

Three Sons Meat would receive meats already slaughtered and cleaned, ready for processing, once a week, according to literature that Phillips and Folliard have been handing out. The facility would be approximately 8,000 square feet for production including dry-aging rooms where the meat would cure. There would be about 500 square feet for office, six to eight employees operating 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We were surprised that people wanted to have a retail spot,” Phillips said. But if all the coordinating businesses can get together, it would be quite the culinary experience. They’re hoping to include a micro distillery in 10,000-12,000 feet for production and storage with four to six stills of 250-gallon capacity each and a small bottling line. People have said they’d like to see a bakery; the Kieran Collection, LLC handout specifies “artisan production of non-meat delicacies, 5,000-7,000 square feet for production.”

Both the distillery and food businesses are to be “high end operations” complementary to the meat and whiskey businesses. A tasting/community room near the front is planned, with windows to view the operations area. Folliard talked about the possibility of catwalks above production facilities for touring viewers.

There were questions about odors and environmental impacts: “There will be one smoker, so you might have a bacon smell once a week,” Phillips said. The air exchange in and out of the dry cure room happens once per hour. No chemicals are used to sterilize anything, it’s all done with electronically charged water.

Both Jenny Fortman, SNO president, and Jim Grell of the Modern Cafe, said they’d seen examples of this type of business in other cities and countries, and “people are lined up around the block for the sandwiches.”

Folliard said a Phase One environmental study has been done, and a Phase Two will likely be required (to analyze the potential impact of past uses). “If it’s okay, we will go ahead and purchase the building.” It’s 31,000 square feet, and it’s anticipated that if any of the businesses needs to expand slightly it will be able to be done within the building.