Planning an impromptu Summer barbeque, and looking for something a little fancier than the ground beef you can order online from Target or Safeway? Have an immediate need for a pound of Applewood smoked bacon, or a foursome of Alsatian sausages? (Honestly, who hasn’t?). Roam Artisan Burgers — a.k.a “Roam” — has you covered.
The fancy burger joint — which has locations in Cow Hollow, Pac Heights, and the Fillmore, as well as several outposts in the East Bay — is known for its upscale burgers, sides, and shakes. You can come to Roam and get a grass-fed beef burger made with meat from a local rancher, or one made from any of a variety of exotic or seasonal meats. Bison, elk, lamb, and more are often on the menu.
Deep in the pandemic, though, Roam started offering something else: a butchery service for its raw meat products.
The restaurant’s Roam Butcher’s Shop sells raw meats from the company’s upscale, often-local, mainly family-owned suppliers. According to the chain’s website, the meats come from “heritage breeds raised on open pastures at regenerative ranches. Free to roam and graze on lush grasses, [with] no hormones or antibiotics.”
Producers of the meats include 4K Ranch, Cooks Venture, Cascade Creek, and many more feature prominently at the Butcher’s Shop.
Roam’s Butcher’s Shop launched in October of 2020, just as the Bay Area’s devastating second wave of Covid-19 was starting to heat up. Visiting a farmer’s market or traveling directly to a ranch would likely have been unthinkable to many Bay Area citizens during those perilous times. So Roam worked to bring meats to us, sourcing them from local purveyors and then selling them directly to customers in the chain’s retail stores, or as part of curated Butcher’s Boxes delivered to local homes.
The concept clearly has legs; Roam has even taken things a step farther, delivering its artisan raw meats via the popular food delivery service Doordash, as well as a specialty delivery service Sealed.
That’s right: Alongside your overpriced boba tea and fancy tacos, you can now get farmer’s-market-quality, bespoke meats delivered right to your door in about 30 minutes via online order.
My local Roamin Lafayette, California delivers Compart Duroc pork, 4K ranch New York Strip steaks, grass-fed ground beef, Rancho Llano Seco sausages, pork butt, and more through Doordash. You can also get the chain’s popular veggie burgers delivered raw.
For a recent barbeque, I ordered two pounds of 4K ranch grass-fed ground beef from Roam. It arrived semi-frozen (not ideal for taste, but certainly better for safety) in a Roam-branded cold bag. I defrosted it, seasoned it, formed it into patties, and threw it on the grill. The burgers were a revelation — far more flavorful and much less fatty than the 80/20 beef from Whole Foods which I normally use.
At $12 per pound, the meat was a splurge. But it felt good to cook healthier food while supporting both a local business and one working hard to preserve traditional ranching practices (4K).
Even at those prices, it’s unlikely that Roam makes much profit on their bespoke meat delivery service. With the pandemic eating into many restaurants’ foot traffic, they may operate the butcher’s shop primarily to increase the volume of meats they’re buying from their tiny suppliers, who are likely especially vulnerable to fluctuations in demand. If people stop buying meat giant Tyson’s products for a while, they can simply raise millions of fewer chickens. Tiny family farms don’t have that flexibility, and the Roam Butcher’s Shop is likely an attempt to shore up their order volume and keep them humming until the pandemic abates. If so, the service represents a solid commitment to its supplier partners on the part of Roam.
For Bay Area cooks, it also represents an easy way to cook better meats and support a local business this Summer without having to leave your home. So if you’re planning a barbecue and want to try something new, grab some meats from Roam and get grilling.
The chain also delivers a variety of ideal-for-Summer canned wines and microbrew beers via Doordash, to make your outdoor feast complete.
You can order Roam Butcher’s Shop meats online and pick them up in person at the chain’s Union Street, San Ramon, or Lafayette locations. You can also order meats via Doordash in many locations, or use expanded delivery in other Bay Area locations via Sealed.