He admits he knew nothing about being a butcher, but when Michael Sirchio saw the Arctic Market & Butcher Shop standing empty in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, he went in whole hog.
“I felt strongly about having a business in my own hometown,” he said.
His vision was an old-school butcher shop, but with grass-fed, grass-finished and organic cuts of meat.
That was 2011, just as the traceable, clean food movement was gathering enthusiasm from healthy home cooks and five-star chefs.
“We were one of the first small-town butcher shops in New Jersey providing farm-to-table products. It was good timing.”
It was also a good location. A series of butcher shops had operated in the spot since 1948. During renovations, Sirchio found an old Arctic sign, liked the logo and adopted it.
He grew up in Point Pleasant Beach, and spent summers selling Italian ice on the boardwalk. He knows most customers by name.
Though he had no butchering chops at the start (he “lucked into” Andy Abeal, a local butcher who stopped in to meet the new guy, gave him some tips and was quickly hired), he did have experience in franchise development with Jersey Mike’s and both a hospitality degree and an MBA from Lynn.
While a Lynn student, he was involved in student government and Alpha Phi Delta. He studied in South Africa and Italy and completed a cruise-for-credit through the Caribbean, which was no vacation.
“We learned everything about the industry firsthand, the entire operation of a cruise, in only two weeks.”
Now a newlywed—wife Kimberly works with him at Arctic—Sirchio said he has supported Lynn (with a dozen annual gifts since 2004) because the lessons he learned there continue to sustain him.
“It’s amazing how much of what I learned at Lynn still helps me today.”