From the beginning, our plan was to be a wholesale meat distributor specializing in local, pasture-raised meats. But our initial move was to open a food truck. Back in 2010 we were one of the first to hit the streets of Durham alongside Only Burger and The Parlour. Dubbed the Sausage Wagon, we served sausage sandwiches developed by our (then) Chef & Operations Manager, Drew Brown (now of Lucky’s Deli). Ah, the flavor combinations are memorable and still beloved. Smoky Kielbasa with pimento cheese anyone? Spicy Italian with fennel chow chow for the road?
We opened up as a wholesale meat distributor in early 2011 and began buying Animal Welfare Approved whole hogs from the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association. Some of our early pork customers included Six Plates, Nana’s and Wine Authorities. About that same time, Seth Gross of Bull City Burger and Brewery approached us about establishing a reliable source for pasture-raised local beef for his custom burgers. That got us into the beef business real quick and we were, truth be told, scrambling to find beef cattle producers who could meet our standards for quality and environmental stewardship. Today that core group of has matured into a trusted network that supplies us year-round.
Our retail partnerships began in 2015 with the commitment of the Durham Co-Op Market to offer fresh Firsthand Foods meats exclusively, followed shortly thereafter by other local natural foods grocers, including Weaver Street Market, which offers all of our fresh sausages and lamb. And our business model as a wholesale meat distributor allows us to serve large institutional like Duke University and SAS.
Today, we have 40+ farmers in our network and 100 retail and restaurant customers, many of whom have been with us since the beginning. Although the Sausage Wagon closed (in 2014), you’ll still find our sausage served by mobile eateries around town, including Pie Pushers and American Meltdown.