MANCHESTER, NH – When father and son Clark and Ben Graves took over at Gaucho’s Churrascaria Brazilian Steak House on Lowell Street in November of 2018 they knew there would be challenges as the “new management” of an existing eatery. But they also knew that the basic premise of their restaurant – serving up melt-in-your-mouth cuts of roasted meats sliced from the bone at your tableside – was worth keeping, and refining.
In a city known for its restaurant scene, building on a unique concept – in this case, serving churrascaria (Portuguese for barbecue) rodízio style (roving waiters who won’t stop delivering the meat until you tell them to) is key to survival.
They came into the restaurant business with some big ideas, including a way to maximize an adjoining space that the previous owner had opened briefly as a crepes restaurant.
“We’re right across the street from the Red Arrow Diner, so it didn’t make sense to compete,” says Ben Graves.
But it was a perfect space to create something that celebrates Gaucho’s delectable meat selection while providing a niche side hustle that doesn’t currently exist: A downtown butcher and wine shop.
That’s the short version of how Gauchos Wine & Butcher came to be. The new venture opened softly just July 1, and the Graves’ hope that as word hits the street they will become the go-to source for marinated meats and seafood – as well as hard-to-find South American wines – for those who live and work downtown.
“Customers love our meats, this way we get them one way or another, whether they eat here or grill at home,” says Ben Graves.
Quality cuts of meat at a competitive price point is the simple premise, says Clark Graves. He compares the model to what exists at Tuckaway Tavern in Raymond.
“This is closer to supermarket prices with butcher shop quality. Our NY center-cut beef is nothing like what you’d get in a supermarket – it’s top quality,” he says. “We think that’s going to be a big selling point – the best quality meats for a great price.”
They also have fresh seafood to go, including scallops, salmon, shrimp and swordfish, and it appears that they may be on to something – opening weekend their first tray of swordfish kababs sold out within two hours.
“It’s convenient. You can pick up two swordfish skewers on your way home and put them right on the grill,” says Ben Graves, who believes extending the quality and care they’ve brought to Gauchos to an in-house butcher shop gives them a jumpstart at what is, in most ways, a whole new business venture.
“We’d be thinking about it differently if we were just trying to open a little butcher shop downtown, but we have advantages with the restaurant attached,” he says.
For one, the demand for daily hand-cut steaks for the restaurant side translates to fresh-cuts daily for butcher shop customers. And that means the hand-cut trim can be made into the freshest ground meat available.
“We’re talking high-quality ground meat, not what the supermarkets grind up,” he says. “It just makes so much sense for us, and for customers.”
Also, they offer wines that pair perfectly with their Brazillian steak menu originating in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uraguay, selections that normally have to be special-ordered by the case.
Clark Graves says he’s already working with two of his vintners, in Chile and Argentina, to organize a wine-tasting tour vacation opportunity for customers who want to get up close and personal with their favorite South American winemakers.
You can also pick up house marinades and salsas inside the butcher shop.
The Graves have gone out of their way to reintroduce their concept restaurant to local diners – including getting a sign out front.
“There really is no sign outside to let people know we’re here, so we’re working on that,” says Ben Graves.
Other initiatives since taking over Gaucho’s include Trivia Tuesdays, live music Thursday – Saturday 6 – 9 p.m., as well as Sundays, 5 – 8 p.m., plus wine-pairing dinners, and eventually, dance parties. Ben Graves says the first several months were a learning curve, but creating a sense of place and connecting with the community in new ways has always been their ultimate goal from day one.
Adding the butcher shop can only help when it comes to developing a new subset of regulars, expanding on the already loyal customer base.
“Opening in time for grilling season is a plus, and we knew as soon as we took over that this was an idea worth pursuing,” says Ben Graves. “Our expectation is that it should be a good idea. But we also think it could be a great idea – we’ll have to wait and see.”
Gaucho’s Wine & Butcher is located adjacent to Gaucho’s Churrascaria Brazillian Steak House, 62 Lowell St. Butcher shop hours are daily from 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Contact: 603-669-9460 or find them on Facebook.