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LowBrau to expand by adding Block Butcher Bar

One of Midtown’s most popular new bars is about to get a sibling – the founders of LowBrau are opening a “whiskey and fine meat establishment” called Block Butcher Bar.

Block should open by the beginning of October in an 11,000-square-foot space that LowBrau currently uses for storage. The new addition is smaller, with a capacity of 50 people, and the owners are aiming to create a more intimate ambiance.

“It is definitely going to have a LowBrau feel but it’s going to be the darker, sexier, more mature version of LowBrau, but still with some quirkiness, because we are who we are,” said Michael Hargis, who started LowBrau with co-owner Clay Nutting.

Block will be run under the Lowbrau LLC, but Hargis and Nutting are collaborating with the crew from Shady Lady. Kevin Riche, the executive chef, is working on developing a menu with charcuterie, fine meats and cheese.

Having an in-house – or next door – butcher will also allow LowBrau to produce some of its sausages on site. This will make it easier for the Lowbrau team to go farm to fork by sourcing from local farms and adjusting the menu to what’s in season. If a local farm has a good batch of cilantro that just hit the Midtown Farmers Market, you might find a sausage with cilantro on the menu at LowBrau that night.

“That’s part of the exciting part of having (Block) be attached to LowBrau, is that we get to do some of those things that we’ve always wanted to do,” Nutting said.

Block is, in a sense, a combination of two established trends in food and drink: hip (or hipster) butchers and whiskey bars.

A whisky-heavy drink menu is being developed in collaboration with Shady Lady, and will suggest pairings from the food menu. Nutting sees this as part of a growing appreciation for the complexity of whiskey.

“I remember growing up just thinking of scotch as an after-meal kind of drink, but I think as people started to learn more about and be more exposed to the whiskeys of the world, it’s starting to become something that can compliment different meals,” he said. “The complexity of the nose and palate of scotch can meet the complexity of the meats and the cheeses that we’re presenting.”

Hargis said he is taking a different approach to the design of Block. While the wood in LowBrau is whitewashed to help create a festive and open feel, the wood and brick at Block will be kept darker. Details like chandeliers made from meat hooks and cutlery hanging from the walls will help set the mood. To get a sense of what they’ll be working with, see these hooks from Block’s Facebook page:

The menu prices will be slightly more expensive too, but Hargis and Nutting want Block to keep what they see as LowBrau’s accessibility, a trait they consider key to success in Midtown.

“Lowbrau is approachable, but it’s designed and done well and I think that’s the culture of Midtown and the culture of Sacramento,” Nutting said. “It’s that we want things that are approachable but we don’t live in a vortex, we have access to the Internet, we see what’s happening in other metropolitan cities and we want that too, so we feel like Block and Lowbra will be an expression of what’s in our hearts, which is this cool designed, well-executed, but approachable space.”

The details for Block are still coming together and we’ll learn more as the tentative October launch date gets nearer. You can follow their progress on Facebook. Do you think Block will do as well as Lowbrau? Are you interested in going once it’s open? Share your thoughts below.

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Jared Goyette

  • Jason Tarman

    I give it two enthusiastic ‘pre-opening’ thumbs up! The incorporation of an onsite butcher (and the added ability to adjust aspects of the menu ‘on the fly’ as needed throughout the year/ sourcing additional local ingredients) will be a major plus. A slightly more intimate physical space (if not grossly overrun with people) will be a plus as well.

    Keep up the good work! Look forward to checking it out in the fall…….

  • Hoping for a quieter space than Lowbrau which can be deafeningly loud indoors and not at all conducive to easy conversations over glasses of whiskey.

    • Jared Goyette

      Yep, they mentioned that, it’s part of the idea.

  • you should probably have someone help you edit this.

  • Melody Stone

    Ooh I can’t wait. Sounds amazing.

  • William Burg

    Will the capacity be 50, or 49?

  • When they say “butcher” do they mean a “butcher’s shop” where you can buy meat retail? Or is it an in-house operation to supply the restaurant?

    • Midtown Family

      That would be good to know too. Would love a butcher’s shop where I can get meats to go.

    • Jared Goyette

      Let me find out and get back to you.

  • Ryan Schauland (f.k.a. ryuns)

    Maybe not “as well as” LowBrau, which is a pretty high bar (heh), but I think it’ll do very well. Midtown is a diverse place and not everyone is always in the mood for the noise and crowds that are inevitable on many nights.

    I love the energy and vision that folks like Nutting and Hargis bring to Sac. Their scrappy version of entrepreneurialism, that flows out of their brick and mortar businesses out to local festivals, fundraisers, the arts, and parties, is what I think of as Sacramento continues to thrive and find its own personality.

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