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Vegan butcher shop opens to epic lines of rabid fans

Waiting in line paid off in the form of cases full of vegan goodies.

Waiting in line paid off in the form of cases full of vegan goodies.

What would be exciting enough to make you wait in line for two hours? One of Prince’s legendary shows at Paisley Park? Uh, yes. Tickets to the Super Bowl? Depends who’s playing. A chance to slap the smug out of Donald Trump? Priceless. Would you wait outside, in 20-degree weather queued up with about 100 other brave souls, for your turn to shop at a vegan butcher?

That was the scene on Saturday, where the wait to get into the grand opening of the Herbivorous Butcher tested the mettle and devotion of eager fans. Customers lined up for vegan versions of meaty favorites like pulled pork and pepperoni as well as vegan cheeses and butters. Until this weekend, these meat-free meats and dairy-free cheeses, the creation of brother and sister Aubry and Kale Walch, were available only at the farmers market and intermittent pop-ups around town.

The duo makes small-batch, locally sourced, all-natural meat and cheese alternatives, and judging from the turnout at the grand opening, there is a huge pent-up demand in the metro for these products. The store opened at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and by 11 a.m., the wait to get into the shop was bordering on ridiculous. 

It was kind of like being at Disney World, where they design the waiting area so you don’t realize how long the wait will be until you’ve been in line so long you figure what the hell, might as well stay. There were about a dozen well bundled-up people waiting in the cold. “That’s not so bad,” we thought to ourselves. But as we headed to what looked like the back of the line, the last guy informed us that the line continued inside.

“Well, at least it will be warmer inside,” we said. And the line inside didn’t seem too bad, either. Until someone on the other side, heading down the stairs, mentioned that the line wrapped through the office — and that they’d been waiting an hour and a half.

As befits a grand opening, there were lots of special guests, giveaways, and samples. PETA was well represented, local news outlets were filming, and there were even women in green bikinis passing out samples (the “lettuce girls” were the subject of much debate on the shop’s Facebook page). The free samples were as close as we got to trying the vegan fare, but based on the Italian sausage we snagged, we’re curious to try more.

Just a small portion of the mass of humanity waiting for their chance to shop the meatless meats.

Just a small portion of the mass of humanity waiting for their chance to shop the meatless meats.

We’d like to tell you what the shop looks like, but that will have to wait for another day, when we can just walk up to the door and go in. We thought Sunday might be that day, but when the store posted on its Facebook page that people were lining up outside an hour before the doors opened, we knew that wouldn’t be happening.

The Herbivorous Butcher

507 First Ave. NE, Minneapolis

Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

612-208-0992