Chef Nick Benninger and his team with the Fat Sparrow Group are at it again. This time, they’ve moved the meats and cheese shop – The Butcher and Market store – into the old Stone Crock Restaurant building, and expanded it to be a store with groceries, products created by the Fat Sparrow Group and others curated by Benninger.
They did keep a small portion of the restaurant intact as a 50-seat restaurant next to the store called The Charcuterie Bar. The restaurant features much of the antique furniture and pieces that had been in the original Stone Crock Restaurant. All together, it’s called the Fat Sparrow Block.
Benninger said the new offerings took about a year to go from idea to up and running, and they hit some bumps along the way in sourcing all the materials needed for the remodeling.
The rationale for the project, Benninger says, stems from the fact he and his team always wanted to expand the butcher shop.
“It was quite a busy little shop, and we just saw more potential in it. But physically, it was just a very small space,” he said.
“The pandemic comes along and changed things a lot so that we closed the Stone Crock at the beginning of the pandemic because it was a buffet restaurant based on tourism, which just no longer made sense. But restrictions had it closed anyway.
“And then it occurred to us one day that moving the butcher shop over here, and going even bigger could be the way to go, so we set that plan in motion. It’s a significantly bigger space, so it had to involve different aspects. That’s when we decided that this Charcuterie Bar would be great.”
The re-imagined Stone Crock space includes a seafood counter, traditional deli counter, butcher, freezers, the Charcuterie Bar restaurant, the bottle shop and some 3,000 square feet of retail space.
The business also includes the wholesale and catering departments, along with Jacob’s Grill and the bakery.
“It’s a big hub,” said Benninger.
Butcher Amy Robertshaw said she is looking forward to the possibility of getting creative with making new products.
“We still have the same values as we did before as the [Stone Crock] Meats & Cheese,” she said.
Benninger says he’s most excited about this space’s ability to showcase Waterloo Region’s food.
“I just think, this location, this village, within this community, this is like Times Square. This is Dundas Square for my world of culinary experiences. We’re in the heart of St. Jacobs. We’re in the historically important restaurant space of the Stone Crock. We’re surrounded by agriculture and the farmers’ market and all that kind of stuff. And we have tourists coming locally and from abroad.
“We have this incredible opportunity to showcase what we think is important to the Waterloo Region food scene. And that to me is the connection to agriculture, the connection to our suppliers, the hands-on approach from start to finish of the ingredients. So, yeah, it’s just, I’ve never felt better about having a space that tells that story in the most visible place possible.”