ITHACA, N.Y—Fresh cuts, smoked and cured meats, terrines and pâté — that’s what The Pork Shop is bringing to Ithaca’s food scene.
The store’s proprietor, Devon Van Noble, has been raising his own pigs and preparing his own piggy provisions for years now. So when he opened up his retail space in the Dewitt Mall a week ago, he completed an especially rare chain of agriculture and food businesses for a single owner to oversee.
“We have a team of people, but a lot of it is on me,” Van Noble said, speaking with The Ithaca Voice on The Pork Shop’s first day of business as customers and curious passersby milled about his new retail space, which is about the size of a small bedroom.
Will there ever be more than pork at The Pork Shop? Yes, but it will be other farmers that raise the cattle, and other farmers raising pigs too if Van Noble’s plans come to fruition. However, he hinted, “I might do lamb down the road. That would be the only one—sheep and lamb.”
The Pork Shop “seems like a very logical growth” of his business, says Van Noble, but it’s a logic that’s underpinned by certain ethics around food or, rather, avoiding the waste of it, which conventional slaughterhouses do constantly.
“Hearts, for example, thrown away, livers thrown away, kidneys thrown away, skin thrown away. All these things that are valuable parts of the pig or animal are typically just tossed,” said Van Noble. He says he’s committed to running a “nose to tail” operation just like the mom and pop shops of old.
Or, like The Piggery, a beloved Ithaca butcher shop that closed its doors in 2021. Van Noble would begin learning to trot the trot of a pig farmer at The Piggery in 2011, and soon after started raising and selling pigs to his then-employer. But The Pork Shop is not The Piggery, despite what people may think.
Van Noble said, “Everybody comes in and is like, ‘Oh, well, are you associated with The Piggery?’ or, ‘When is The Piggery going to come back. I remember when they used to be so good!’ […] Every person thinks that we are somehow The Piggery.”
Van Noble estimated he had at least 50 interactions like that happened throughout a booming first day of business. You could say that The Pork Shop has big hooves to fill.