The owner of Hill & Szrok, one of east London’s standout pandemic food business success stories, has told Eater he will open a new butchers shop, which will eventually double as a bar, in Newington Green in late September or early October. It does not yet have a name but it will not be called Hill and Szrok
Luca Mathiszig-Lee, who opened the original butchers shop, restaurant, wine bar, and shop on Hackney’s Broadway Market in March 2014 was keen to dispel the idea that the business was opening a new shop solely as a result of its success throughout the pandemic. He wanted to clarify that while Hill & Szrok had definitely done comparatively “well” over the past 15 or 16 months, it hadn’t done significantly more trade that it would have done had there been no COVID-19. It had merely made up through retail most of what it had lost from dining in; he was grateful that the shop, unlike many restaurants in the city, was able to do so.
The idea to gently expand and to build relationships with more farmers in the U.K. for their whole-carcass butcher had been in the works before the pandemic. The increase in retail footfall (and the closure of restaurants) enabled them as buyers to develop relationships with suppliers who hadn’t previously had the capacity to sell to them; suppliers to whom Hill & Szrok were unable to guarantee enough trade. But that changed and it is with those suppliers — such as Matt Chatfield in Cornwall or Fred Price in Somerset — and new ones that Mathiszig-Lee wants to work with closely at the new shop. “People want to know more about what they’re eating and where it’s coming from,” he said. This was a trend the shop had noticed increasingly through lockdown and something they’re looking now to build on.
The owner pointed Eater to the brand’s ethos and says it will stick by it as it expands: “We stock whole carcasses from small, independent farmers who rear their livestock using traditional, low-intervention methods. That means less waste and a higher standard of produce throughout our butchery, deli and restaurant.”
Later, he says, they’re going to be “playing with the idea of a bar — which will have snacks, where people can have a drink, have a tartare in the evening.” He’s long fantasised about opening a tartare bar. There’ll be charcuterie eventually as well, which the butchers will cure in-house. “But start with - just small butcher’s shop; not ruling out that one day it will become something else in the evening,” he said.
The premises, which is next door to the iconic Newington Green fruit and veg at 101 Newington Green Road, will still be “in keeping with a classical butcher’s shop” but would be slightly different to the original, Mathiszig-Lee said. He also said he was looking for new staff in the area — untrained who the new shop could take on apprenticeships.