The Butcher Barn Opens Old School Operation in Rural Oxford

Oxford County’s newest butcher shop is located in a 150-year-old barn just outside East-Zorra Tavistock and is run by lifelong Hickson resident Chris Bray along with his wife Tanya.

While he’s never owned his own business Chris is very well know in the area having worked with meat since he was 12 years old at a number of local shops. “I used to work for Steve Rudy, helped Clarence Herlick out, helped Butch Mogk out a little bit too, and Brent Miedema in Embro. I helped out a lot with slaughtering. There aren’t many people who know how to do it.”

For Chris it is the realization of a years-long dream to be his own boss. “Something I have always wanted to have is my own shop. I am taking my 25 years of experience and I am going to show people what I can do.” He said it took about four months of building to open the store and he added he couldn’t have done it without a lot of elbow grease from his close buddies. “I have friends in almost every trade. An electrician, a plumber, and a framer. And between them all they put this together. They have all just started their own small businesses, so it was nice to be able to give them the work.” Red Clover Electric, J B Construction, and Revita Construction all chipped in to make The Butcher Barn a reality.

In terms of the products for sale, Chris said he can produce anything a customer is looking for. “Pretty well anything you want to buy I can have it. I’m not doing any custom butchering, other than custom curing and smoking. A lot of other shops bring their products here and I smoke it for them.”

The one part of the business he is most proud of is the way he smokes his meat, a skill that is often lost in today’s butcher business. He added quality is always his top priority. “I do my curing and smoking the old-fashioned way. There isn’t any liquid smoke. Its all brined and it takes a week to make everything. Its time. Good things take time. There’s no fillers or additives in my sausages. Its all gluten-free. It’s the best quality possible.” Chris buys all of his animals from local suppliers including pork from T.J. Murray and beef from Norpac. “Great quality from both. Its always the best.”

The business is located in Blanford-Blenheim Township just outside of East Zorra-Tavistock on Road 8. While not a highly travelled path, Chris said they are focusing on word of mouth and social media to spread the word. “(My wife) Tanya has done a great job on Facebook and that has already brought us a lot of business.” He added supplying restaurants and retail stores is on the radar. “Going forward we are going to get our feet under us, get a good routine going and then try to expand from there.”

Chris said what makes his hard work creating his high-quality protein is the response he gets from his customers and friends. “I love doing this every day. I have gotten feedback from people that they have never had smoked pork chops like the ones they bought here.” The 39-year-old butcher has received some interesting feedback from his friends over the years who say his smoked bacon is so good they call it ‘Braycon.’

His two children, son Jackson is 10 and daughter Brynnley is 7, do their best to help despite their young age. “You gotta take the time to teach them. Just like I was taught.”

The Butcher Barn is open Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments can be made from Sunday to Tuesday by calling 226-228-1023.

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