Walk to the Santa Monica flagship of Belcampo Meat Purveyor, the West Coast’s (most infamous) high-end meat company, and you’ll be greeted by a locked door and a sheet of white paper taped to the window that says “Closed to Business. Sorry, ”scrawled in capital letters in red chalk. Inside, the meat boxes that were once overflowing with expensive beef, lamb, and chicken pieces are practically empty, while stacks of furniture line the edges of the room.
The Belcampo Meat Company as we know it is being made: it quietly deleted all of its social media accounts and disabled its OpenTable reservations in LA and the Bay Area, while co-founder Anya Fernald removed any corporate affiliation from Instagram -Profile. According to sources close to the company, employees were informed by text message that their job was terminated today. While Belcampo’s downtown LA location, inside Grand Central Market, is normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, a few remaining employees at the meat delivery outpost in Santa Monica used to be able to quietly pack things up and Belcampo’s retail stores in West Third LA and Bay Area neighborhoods went unanswered today.
The company has confirmed its public closure. “As we cease e-commerce, retail and restaurant operations, the company is evaluating a number of options to offer unbranded products to consumers through new distribution channels,” CEO Garry Embleton said in a statement. “The company’s supply chain, farm and processing facility are both best in class and we hope there are opportunities to work with companies that want to bring consumers meat products that meet these high standards.”
Sign outside the Belcampo, Santa Monica location reading “Closed of Business”, taken October 18, 2021. Eater LA
Belcampo was founded in 2013 with a $ 50 million investment by billionaire financier Todd Robinson. Within a year it became one of the lighthouses of the sustainable butchery movement, promoting its unique approach to regenerative cattle breeding and agriculture – including in the New Yorker – and promising its well-heeled customers humane, immaculately sourced meat at a deluxe price tag match. By 2019, Belcampo had expanded several butcher and restaurant businesses in California, as well as an outpost in New York City.
Last summer, the company suffered a spectacular fall from grace after Evan Reiner, an LA butcher and former Belcampo employee, posted a series of Instagram videos alleging the company was passing meat from other companies as its own . Several employees then described to Eater LA a year-long pattern of mislabeling meat in at least two locations, with stores routinely selling cheaper raw materials to customers, including factory-raised meat, instead of their own premium cuts – but at the same premium prices .
Following allegations of mislabeling, Belcampo admitted the deception, saying an internal investigation found that a small percentage of its products were improperly labeled. It declared that in the future it would only source from its own farm or partner companies who adhere to the strict standards and reimbursed all customers who believed they were buying Belcampo’s own meat. It appeared to continue to function normally until that week.
The company did not respond to questions about the status of its employees, but merely stated in its prepared statement that “in the future our focus will be on supporting our retail and e-commerce employees during the transition”.
This story will evolve and will be updated as new information becomes available.
Additional coverage from Farley Elliot