Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
As Link Lab Artisan Meats enters our 4th year of business, I’ve been doing some big thinking about the company. Our sausage and bacon products have found steady customers all around the state, business continues to grow, and customer feedback is as positive and flattering as ever. Thanks for that! Creating and running this company has been an exciting and very rewarding adventure. But…..(uh oh, here it comes), I’ve decided to wind things down and stop sausage and bacon production.
Link Lab is closing, and February 2014 will be our final month of business.
Link Lab has developed to a point where we need to either grow substantially, or pull back substantially. And frankly, I don’t want to run a facility that is exponentially larger than what we currently have today.
During the past several years running Link Lab, I found an amazingly supportive audience of customers, partners, and friends who continuously assured me that “supporting our amazing local farmers….via great sausage” was not only a worthwhile mission, but also a model that should be repeated and emulated more often in the food-world. The farmers, chefs, and retail business owners I’ve worked with all clearly share my passion for thoughtful food production, and thoughtful food consumption. The story and details behind the source of our food does not have to be a mystery as it is too often. We’ve slowed down the manufacturing pace, proudly ensured an unreasonable level of transparency into our processes and recipes, and always used local farmed meats as the core of our sausage and bacon products. While shutting down Link Lab may sound disappointing to some, this story will end on a strong, healthy, and positive note. I feel so good about the work I’ve done, the people I’ve met, and the statement I’ve made to the food industry (and the USDA) that thoughtful and responsible food production by small business is not only important, but very possible. I don’t know if I’ve blazed a trail, but if it helps a few other food producers support local farmers and bring great products to market, than it can’t be all bad. Right?
The whole Link Lab journey has been an amazing ride, and I am wrapping things up while the entire experience for everyone (customers and me) is so genuinely great.
There have been a tremendous amount of people who have joined me for the Link Lab adventure, and I thank you all for your involvement, encouragement, feedback, and support. I have a lot more to say and share with this community, and writing a book will likely be one of several next steps. There are a lot of stories to tell, recipes to share, and plenty of amusing food-safety and government meat-inspection anecdotes that are genuinely worth documenting and sharing. Stay tuned for details about my next steps.
Thank you again for your ongoing support of Link Lab and of the work I did here.
All the best,
Many thanks to Catherine Reynolds (Queso y Vino and the Spanish wine guru at Seattle’s Wine World & Spirits) for recommending two wines to accompany the Link Lab Sausage Primo pizza featured by Pagliacci Pizza this month. I hope everyone enjoys these affordable and tasty bottles. We might as well drink well while enjoying the pizza.
Lab Vinho Tinto 2010, Vinho Regional Lisboa $8.99
Iberia is famous for their acorn-fed pigs, so I suggest pouring this inviting Portuguese wine to compliment Link Lab’s hazelnut-finished sausage. The smooth black currant flavors and Portuguese earthiness go hand in hand with shiitake and sage.
Bricco del Tati Barbera 2010, Piemonte $9.99
Barbera with pork and mushrooms are a match made in heaven. This red will sing with the sweetness of roasted leeks and mushrooms, the fruits of the earth.
It has been two years (Feb 1, 2011) since I received a Federal Grant of Inspection from the US Department of Agriculture to legally produce and sell sausage. In my first week of business, I made 25 lbs of sausage and had zero customers. After two years of effort, I now make close to 300 lbs per week for Seattle restaurants and retail stores. Today, we have an amazing community of supportive, enthusiastic, and carnivorous customers. The timing is coincidental, but starting today, I am so thrilled to have Link Lab sausage featured for the entire month of February by Seattle’s Pagliacci Pizza. There are 26 Pagliacci resaurants in Seattle, and they’ve created a wonderful pizza named the “Link Lab Sausage Primo“. Shiitake & Sage sausage with roasted leaks is really delicious, and I hope you’ll give it a try.
Pagliacci Pizza wrote up a very nice article at http://www.pagliacci.com/blog/?p=2059
Thanks to everyone for all your support during these first two years. Let’s keep supporting our amazing local farmers…..by enjoying Link Lab sausage! –David
Link Lab Artisan Meats is wrapping up our 2nd full year of business. Our community of customers, partners, friends, and intrigued bystanders continues to grow, and we seem to be getting busier with each passing week. During 2012, we steadily increased our presence in restaurants and retail shops, and there are a lot of big plans for 2013.
Thank you everyone for remaining passionate about using locally sourced meat and thoughtfully produced products like our sausage from Link Lab. The local farmers we partner with are doing incredible work, and it is very satisfying to help so many carnivores support our local food system.
- To all the chefs using Link Lab sausage on your menu: Thank you!
- To all the retailers selling Link Lab sausage at your shop: Thank you!
- To folks who can’t find Link Lab Sausage: Speak up and help spread the word. Tell your favorite restaurant and grocery store about Link Lab. Good business decisions (even in restaurants) are made based on customer feedback.
Here are a few fun numbers and highlights from 2012:
- >9000 lbs Link Lab sausage sold in 2012
- Our meat: A great and expanding group of farmers provided our meat this year:
- Jones Family Farm on Lopez Island, WA
- Martiny Livestock in Concrete, WA
- Tails & Trotters Hazelnut finished pork
- Heritage Lane Farm in Lynden, WA
- Crown S Ranch in Winthrop, WA
- Draper Organic Poultry farm in Mt Vernon
- Boise Creek Boer Goats in Enumclaw, WA
- 20 restaurants bought and served Link Lab sausage this year.
- 15 retail stores around the state are selling Link Lab sausage
- New kitchen: In August, Link Lab moved out of our original facility (my garage) and into a fully dedicated commercial kitchen. There is a lot more elbow room now.
- New Delivery Truck: The Prius served me well, but 2012 was the year to upgrade to a larger delivery vehicle.
- Three great employees: George, Daniel, and Em are a 6-armed sausage making machine. We’re all still learning each day, but production moves along well with good people and extra square footage to work in.
- Mr. Pearlstein goes to Washington: In August, David travelled to Washington, DC and spoke to a group of 30 employees at USDA/FSIS (food safety inspection service). A very exciting morning, and everyone seemed to like the story of what Link Lab is doing out here in the Northwest.
- International friends: Link Lab has new supporters and friends from around the world (Wales, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Brazil, Canada, Thailand)
- Macrina: A huge thanks to Leslie Mackie of Macrina Bakery for mentioning Link Lab Artisan Meats in the beautiful new cookbook More from Macrina
- USDA Inspection: USDA Food Safety Inspectors continue to visit Link Lab every day. And every 6 months, we get a new inspector. Quite decent people so far who are good at their job, helpful to the safety of our product, and not too burdensome to our work. My most recent inspector once hosted a Euro-Metal radio show on Texas public radio. Government workers come from everywhere!
- Creative Customers: Some of you Link Lab customers were very creative with sausage:
- Martini Turkey Sausage served on a vermouth foam
- “Make way for Duck-Links” – appetizer sized duck & cherry sausages served on a brioche bun with house made ketchup and relishes.
- “Bunnies in the Garden” – Rabbit & Prune sausage served on a bed of greens….for Easter.
- Rosemary & Sage Turkey sausage dipped in panco crumbs, fried and served on a skewer.
- Link Lab’s Juniper-Garlic Sausage stuffed in Roast Chicken
- Farewell: Seattle said goodbye to two of my favorite restaurants. Elemental at Gasworks and Skelly & the Bean. They were both Link Lab customers, but more importantly they changed the food landscape in Seattle and cooked amazing food. Good luck to you guys! I’m already looking forward to whatever you do next.
- The Press: Link Lab was fortunate to have some very nice stories written and published about us this past year.
- Illinois Men’s Gymnastics wins 2012 NCAA Championships! – a bit off topic and non-regional, but some news is worth sharing
Upcoming in 2013
- Bacon production is just about ready to begin! Who’s ready for bacon?
- New sausage varieties continue to be developed. Organic Curry Chicken sausage is one to look for soon.
- More restaurant partners, grocery partners, and easier availability for everyone.
- So much more…..get ready for a big 2013!
All the best to everyone for a busy and healthy new year.
The youth of America (well, at least one teen from Redmond, WA) happily promotes Link Lab on his way to a cheese making class this past weekend. So many kids are aware of food! And they are becoming (and encouraging their parents to be) thoughtful consumers of meat and other resource-intensive ingredients.
Thanks Michael (and Karla) for sharing this photo!
Today is a big day for Link Lab Artisan Meats.
Starting this morning, PCC Natural Markets (Fremont and Green Lake stores) will be selling sausage in their fresh and frozen meat sections. We’re starting at the Fremont and Green Lake stores, but if things go well, I hope to see our product sold at more of the 9 area stores. If you shop at the Fremont or Green Lake PCC, please show your support for Link Lab and for PCC’s decision to carry our product. Buy a package of sausage, and be sure to thank any store employee for supporting Link Lab and other local food producers.
[David with meat department's Carole at the first Link Lab delivery to PCC Natural Markets ]
If your neighborhood PCC does not carry Link Lab products yet, be sure to take a minute and tell the folks behind the meat/seafood counter that you’d like to see our sausage available on the shelf. PCC is a great business, and they take a lot of initiative to satisfy their customers. Give them feedback, and I’m confident that they will respond.
Thank you again for all the support over this first year of business. Our mission of helping “responsible carnivores support amazing local farmers….through sausage” is becoming very real. I’m proud to be involved, and I thank you all for your enthusiastic feedback.
Enjoy your sausage!
Thank you Celeste and Benjamin for sporting your Link Lab Onesies. It is great to get this market penetration in the Bay Area. Your chubby arms and legs look appropriately sausage-like.
Happy New Year Link Lab Friends!
- 3500 lbs of meat cut, ground, and sold as sausage during 2011
- 8 Northwest farmers have provided beautiful responsibly raised local meat. I hope to continue meeting new farmers and using more great local meat.
- 19 sausage labels are approved by the USDA. That took some patience.
- More than 25 restaurants, retail shops, and farmers have sold our product to their customers. Many of these businesses continue to place weekly orders!
- USDA inspectors have provided compliments, corrections, an positive involvement helping me keep things safe and WELL DOCUMENTED. (Who doesn’t love a good paper trail.)
- We’ve had production weeks as simple as 25 lbs and as busy as 325 lbs.
- 9 beautifully written articles published about Link Lab. http://linklabartisanmeats.com/category/news
- I paid all of my bills and still enjoy making sausage.
- My wife and kids still like me.
- More……local-farm-partners, restaurants, retail shops, and production pounds per week
- No change to the small-batch, hand-mixed, exquisite sausage quality that is the foundation of Link Lab Artisan Meats products.
- And if everything goes as planned, we will add Link Lab Bacon into the product lineup in 2012.