Colin Brown of Gifted Grass Farms
has purchased R&D Sausage (15714 Waterloo Rd.) in N. Collinwood. The 50-year-old butcher shop has been in the hands of Joe Zuzak for most of those years and his presence still will be felt after his retirement, says Brown.
“We didn’t want to just come in and flip it over,” Brown explains. “We’re going to keep Joe’s recipes and his legacy alive and simultaneously start to incorporate our farm-raised meats like non-GMO pork, beef and chicken.”
In addition to long-standing favorites like smoked Croatian and Slovenian sausages, cevapi, cottage hams and bacon, the new owners will begin to incorporate Brown's sustainably raised proteins, which are reared on his south Medina farm.
Brown’s Gifted Grass is still recovering from the pandemic, which abruptly upended his entire business model. At peak, he was raising 400 hogs, 120 steer, 10,000 pastured chickens and 600 turkeys, all of which were consigned to restaurants throughout the region. Those accounts largely dried up overnight.
Brown currently is ramping production back up at the farm, relying on his decade of experience in responsibly raising commercial proteins. Those products will slowly begin appearing as new products at the butcher shop and on select menus around town.
“Instead of how I’ve always done it, which is to rely on restaurants, my plan is to promote the shop as our main place,” he says.
The standalone building with a parking lot is located across the street from the Beachland Ballroom. One of the main selling points, adds Brown, is the custom-made walk-in smokehouse.
“One of the reasons I was excited about doing this is the actual smokehouse,” he says. “I’m very familiar with smoking meats, so having a smoker this nice is very appealing.”
In summer, he and collaborator Rasul Welch will fire up the mobile kitchen for N. Collinwood events. It’s a neighborhood that Brown is eager to join and one he feels is poised for great things. He points to local anchors like Citizen Pie, Six Shooter Coffee and the Beachland Ballroom and says that opportunity is there for the taking.
“I just see this neighborhood teetertottering on the precipice of being the next hot neighborhood in the city,” Brown states. “It’s safe, it’s quiet, there are beach-lined streets that are well-lit and well-taken care with well-maintained properties. If you’re an artist, if you’re in a creative space, if you’re in a culinary space – these passion-driven economies – I think this neighborhood is ripe.”