DANVERS — It was any business owner’s worst nightmare: On Aug. 12, 2002, Glen St. Cyr was awakened with a phone call. His family-owned business since 1978, The Butchery on Donegal Lane was fully engulfed in flames. An arsonist was later sentenced to eight years in prison for lighting it and other fires.
Despite the enormous setback, St. Cyr never wavered in his resolve to rebuild bigger and better, and today the shop at 182 North St. is a testament to that commitment. The shop gets its meat from suppliers in the Midwest, cuts to order in its butchery in Danvers, sells it retail in two locations in Massachusetts and ships it wholesale around the country.
Both sides of the business are growing.
The Salem News spoke with St. Cyr about the 10-year anniversary of the fire and how his business was able to recover so successfully.
What do you remember about the morning in August 2002 when your butcher shop burned?
I got a call at quarter to 3 in the morning telling me the building is on fire. I went down there, and the building was fully engulfed in flames. As the firefighters were trying to put it out, the fire hydrant lost pressure just as it looked like they were going to knock it down. They finally put it out at 7 or 8 in the morning.
We’d been at the location since 1978 and had outgrown the area; we had expanded as far as we could. That night of the fire, we made the decision not to rebuild there. The fire really triggered our next move.
How did your business survive?
Our business was interrupted for two years until we finally found the location on North Street and reopened Dec. 2, 2004. We had a second retail store in Newbury, and we had another (production) building that was USDA-inspected from where we were cutting meat and selling some wholesale at the time. That allowed us to also keep the Newbury store in product.
As we were building the new building on North Street, we incorporated the cutting facilities into the basement. We have a 15,000-square-foot footprint, and we pushed into the ground to give us more headroom for the retail shop.
What’s the state of the business today?
The retail keeps getting busier, and the wholesale keeps getting busier. We’ve expanded some new lines and portion cutting, and we have the USDA inspection in the basement. We sell product in Florida, and my brother is working on distribution in Pennsylvania.
In the weeks after the fire, were you confident you’d get back to this level, or were there worries that you were sunk?
We were very confident then. Then reality set in a little bit for a while. We opened a store with four times the space as our other store; we started selling beer and wine products, different kinds of meats, and groceries. We took on a lot at once, and there was a big learning curve. But the hard work paid off.
Do you still have many of the same customers as before the fire?
Oh yeah. We’ve got great customers.