North Wilkesboro, N.C. — Shoppers will soon have a new option for fresh cuts of premium meats in downtown North Wilkesboro as Apple Brandy Prime Cuts opens a retail space at 106 Chestnut Street next to Smoot Park. It is slated to open in early spring 2021, adding four positions bringing its total to 12 employees. Seth Church, owner of Apple Brandy Prime Cuts, also operates a harvesting and processing plant on Thomas Street in North Wilkesboro. His processing plant is under inspection for calves, cattle, swine, sheep, goats and ratite, which are large, flightless birds such as the ostrich.
“While fresh, hand cut-to-order Apple Brandy Beef steaks will always be at the center of the offering for Prime Cuts, a variety of local products from Western North Carolina will be more convenient and readily available to the residents of Wilkes,” said Church.
According to Church, Prime Cuts will continue to rely on local farms and producers to source the food items offered in the retail shop. Apple Brandy Beef, raised in Wilkes County, is the anchor product of Prime Cuts. Prime Cuts also offers fresh pork sourced from Looper Family Farms in Granite Falls, as well as whole country hams and packages from A.B. Vannoy Hams of West Jefferson. Cheese products from English Farmstead Cheese in Marion, N.C., will be added to the product line.
Apple Brandy Prime Cuts provides inspected harvesting and processing of livestock for both producers utilizing it for their own consumption and licensed meat handlers who sell their products through markets and retail outlets. The livestock processed at Apple Brandy Prime Cuts are drawn predominantly from central and western North Carolina.
COVID-19 has dramatically increased the demand for services at Wilkes Abattoir, which is doing business as Apple Brandy Prime Cuts. At the onset of the pandemic, the lead time on appointments for harvesting all species went from six weeks to well over one year. As a result, appointments are currently booked through the end of calendar year 2021, according to Church.
“In addition to request for custom processing, Apple Brandy Prime Cuts incurred a substantial increase in demand for retail sales at the onset of the pandemic. The community reached out to Prime Cuts to stock home freezers and ensure their families would have quality local proteins for the duration of the pandemic. The Apple Brandy Beef and Apple Brandy Prime Cuts team put in extra effort and hours to be able to service everyone through the current small retail shop on Thomas Street,” said Church. “This demand for our products has grown throughout 2020. The addition of the larger, more convenient retail space will allow Apple Brandy Beef and Apple Brandy Prime Cuts to serve the community at a much greater scale.”
Church says the Thomas Street processing plant needs to expand to meet demands from regional butcheries that rely on Apple Brandy Prime Cuts to harvest livestock that are then processed in the local butchery shops. Church received an IMPEC (Increasing Meat Production Efficiency & Capacity) grant from N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services for equipment upgrades and a 700-square-foot expansion at the Thomas Street plant.
"On behalf of the Mayor and Commissioners, I want to thank Seth Church and Apple Brandy Prime Cuts for choosing downtown North Wilkesboro for their expansion. They're bringing the flavors of the Wilkes County countryside into town, giving all area residents the opportunity to enjoy farm fresh meat. Between Apple Brandy Prime Cuts and the seasonal Wilkes County Farmers Market a few blocks away, downtown North Wilkesboro should be the area's culinary destination of choice for years to come," said North Wilkesboro Town Manager Wilson Hooper.
“Wilkes Economic Development Corporation congratulates Apple Brandy Prime Cuts in growing to meet demand at its current facility and expanding into a new location. The expansion is an excellent example of how agriculture and food processing, two sectors Wilkes County excels within, have overcome challenges and remained strong in 2020,” said Wilkes EDC President LeeAnn Nixon. Vice President Robin Hamby welcomed the opportunity to provide assistance to Seth Church throughout his search for a new location. Both stated, “We look forward to supporting Apple Brandy as it embarks on the next stage of business growth.”
HISTORY OF THE BUSINESS
Wilkes Abattoir, doing business as Apple Brandy Prime Cuts, purchased Thomas Brothers Meat Processing May 2, 2019, as a means to continue the provision of inspected meat processing to livestock producers and meat handlers in North Carolina. Thomas Brothers began in the late 1960s. Apple Brandy Prime Cuts is the sister company to Apple Brandy Beef, a North Carolina meat handler since 2006. Both organizations are owned by fourth generation cattle producer Seth Church.
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