‘There are no short cuts in this business. You and your staff set the bar high and you never go below that.’ – John Stenton
John Stenton, Brackenbury’s popular family butcher, is reflecting on his experience of lockdown. ‘It’s been a proper ordeal dealing with Covid. My children asked me to shut the shop, but I wouldn’t do that because people in Hammersmith needed me.
‘We devised a method of Perspex-ing up the front door and we served our customers one at a time. It was tough, with queues outside in the rain. I must say thanks to everyone for being so patient – it’s down to them that we’re still here.’
John was taught the trade by Master Butchers. ‘They were old-school professionals and I started at the bottom, that’s the best way to learn. Even now, 50-odd years later, you’re never too old to do something new: I call it drive, and I look for it in my guys; how can we do it nicer, how can we do it better, how can we do it quicker…’
That positive philosophy is reflected in John’s decision to stock Japanese Wagyu beef. ‘It’s the world’s greatest meat. We have Grade A5 Wagyu – that’s the top grade – and we did our homework. We interviewed our Japanese suppliers three times and I watched documentaries on how to cook it so that I knew what I was talking about. When the Wagyu arrived, and it took six weeks, I put a notice in the window. We sold the lot in a day!
‘We already sell all kinds of beef – ribeye, Aberdeen Angus, sirloin – as well as 4 and 6oz burgers, so it was nice to give people the chance to try something different.
‘Customers are welcome to order in advance, just call me or pop in, and we can also put them on the priority list for special items like the next batch of Wagyu.’
Even with the end of lockdown, John and his wife won’t be taking a break. ‘Now we talk about where we’re not going on holiday,’ he laughs. ‘So, no France, no Germany, no America. When I’ve had my second jab, we might go to Chiswick. That’s probably as far as we’ll get!’
John Stenton Family Butchers
55 Aldensley Road
Hammersmith W6 0DH