Back to Features

A cut above

Dave's Meat and Produce is your local butcher

DAVE'S MEAT AND PRODUCE: Derek Kipapa listens to his customers. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Cuts of New York steak, filet mignon, brisket, chops, sirloin, ribs and all manner of beef and pork greet you at the counter. Adjacent, in another cold case, salmon candy, chickens, ready-to-cook burgers, bacon and other delectable meats chill.  For a carnivore it is heaven. 

The art of butchery seems to have hidden itself away in the bowels of supermarkets. Only a few artisan locations maintain that old-world relationship between butcher and consumer. Where I Street turns into 21st in Tacoma, you will find the North Slope neighborhood‘s meat cutter at Dave's Meat and Produce.

Derek Kipapa, owner of Dave's, bought the location in 2006 after a failing gas station gave up and closed shop. Over the course of a year he and his team redesigned the building to serve as a butcher shop and market. On Nov. 11, 2006, the store opened. The name "Dave's" came from Kipapa's original business partner who left the store months after it opened. 

"We always had a great reception. Prospective (customers) would walk in and welcome us to the neighborhood," Kipapa remarks of the community support Dave's has recieved. "I can't thank this community, this town of Tacoma, I can't thank them enough. They have been extremely loyal."

At first the storefront was primarily meat and produce, both operated by Kipapa.  But in 2009 Dave's was granted a liquor license and started selling wine. Today the store carries 50 assorted bottles. Over the years, other items have been added to meet customers' wants. Cold cases of eggs, high-end artisan cheeses and milk now fill one wall. There's also a cross section of craft beers, including the Harmon brand. One of the favorite items for markets patrons is the fresh-made guacamoles and salsas. A third of the main display case of the butcher shop is devoted to ready-to-go meal items.

"Customers are always on the go. They've got kids that they are taking to soccer practice, to baseball practice. They are looking for meals they can cook within five minutes and no more than 45 minutes. So that is what our (cold) case is designed to do," Kipapa explains. "We want to make the product so good that they want to go home and stay home instead of going out to a restaurant."

On the produce front, Kipapa admits he was not too confident in his knowledge to begin with, so a year ago he subleased the front of the store to Josette's North End Market. Josette's now operates in unison with Dave's, with its own staff but sharing space and vision. 

Another feature of Dave's Meat and Produce is the outside coffee shop.  Currently operated by Gageby Farms, the outpost has changed hands a couple times over the years, with Kipapa leasing space to the operators. The coffee stand currently offers the regular coffee fare, though Kipapa hints that sandwiches and lunch items might be added in the future.

A long-standing tradition at Dave's is the frequent burger barbeque and taco Tuesdays. Every Tuesday Dave's offers two tacos (dressed the way you want), beans and rice for $3. The tradition goes on rain or shine.

In the almost five years Dave's has been open, the business has grown to become a hub for the North Slope community. For summer grilling ideas there is no place better in the North End. 

"The key is listening to your customers," says Kipapa. "Really listening to what they want."

Dave's Meats and Produce

312 N. I St., Tacoma

Read next close

We Recommend

Through Sunday, Aug. 21: South Sound Wine Trails

Comments for "A cut above"

Comments for this article are currently closed.