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New Restaurant Carves Out Niche in Downtown Takoma Park

There's a new kid on the chopping block at the new feedlot-petting zoo on Westmoreland Avenue.

TAKOMA PARK—The Old Town Business Association has announced that the long-vacant site of the former Taliano’s pizzeria is soon to become a bustling regional attraction: The nation’s first slaughterhouse-restaurant. Appropriately named “Slaughter,” the venture is a partnership of the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Food Co-op, the Takoma Park Farmers’ Market, and the two-year-old local newspaper, the Takoma Pork.

The TPSS Co-op was embroiled in controversy several years ago after members voted to allow the sale of meat and meat products. The Farmers Market also sells meat. The two organizations see the restaurant as a way to move inventory more quickly in the vegetarian-heavy town. The Takoma Pork simply liked the idea, according to its editors.

The slaughter-to-table concept was inspired by the success of the brew-pub movement, according to owner Larry Sanders. “People have been flocking to brew-pubs for years now, paying a premium for local microbrews. We’re just bringing in OUR flock of micro-cattle to reach an as yet untapped market.”  The restaurant will prepare only miniature breeds due to limited downtown acreage suitable for grazing.

Slaughter's management has obtained permission from the City to locate its feedlot on the grassy area next to the Westmoreland Avenue playground.  "We're just thrilled with the City's cooperation and with the location," Sanders said.  "It's serendipity; with the playground right there, we can operate the feedlot as a petting zoo.  It's good for our profit margin and great advertising."   For only $9.95, children can join Slaughter's Kids' Klub.  Members can adopt a "Wilbur" of their very own and are entitled to a rib, loin, or flank, or another cut of equal or less value.

Reservations are accepted beginning at noon each day for the evening’s meal; in fact, customers are encouraged to reserve the animal they wish to eat by 3 p.m. to reduce waiting times in the restaurant. For diners who do not make reservations in advance, Slaughter’s large appetizer menu is expected to soothe hungry diners until their meal can be “subdued,” skinned, and cooked.  Slaughter also has a liberal "bring your own" policy, though Sanders recommends domesticated animals and anticipates having an age limit on household pets.

Renovation of the restaurant's building began in June.  The restaurant will feature glass walls between the dining room, the kitchen, and the slaughter line, according to architect Brad MacArty.  "The diner will be part of the whole meal cycle, from the pen to the hook to the table."   The interior is an homage to the slaughterhouse, with drains in the tile floors, blood-red liquid soap in the restrooms, and gut buckets instead of trash cans.  "Out of respect for Takoma Park's reuse-recycle ethos, we've incorporated every little bit of the animal that we can," said McArty.  Chairs are upholstered in hides, and the taps behind the bar are made of jaw bones.  The menu will even include desserts created with a house-made gelatin.  And for the under-12 set, each meal will be accompanied by a balloon made from a pig's bladder.  "We stole that idea from Little House on the Prairie," admits Sanders.  "My daughter loved that part." 

While many locals are already predicting a rapid demise for the restaurant, Sanders is more upbeat. He sees this as a way to educate the meat-eating public. "Oh yeah, we're going to make being a carnivore PC. With all the processed and packaged foods these days, I feel we're too removed from the sources of our food. When was the last time you knew the name of the cow and pig in your bacon cheeseburger?  Each of our entrees will come with a full biography of the source animal, including name, birthdate and slaughter-weight."

Sanders is planning a grand opening in September and hopes that the smell of fresh meat on Carroll Avenue will lead Takoma Parkians to Slaughter.

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