Bacon is their business, and their business tastes good
You know people like what you’re selling when your sign needs to have only one word.
“At farmers markets, our tent literally just says ‘Bacon’ on it. That’s all it needs,” said George “Rocky” Burpee of Loudon, who with wife Laura owns and runs Shaker Road Provisions, which makes small-batch bacon. After two years on the farmers market circuit, they’ve moved into a storefront on Fort Eddy Road, taking over the former home of Smokeshow Barbeque, which has moved to a bigger restaurant on South Main Street.
Both Rocky and Laura, an attorney, have culinary backgrounds but cooking bacon commercially started as an accident.
“When I do stuff I usually blow up and go way overboard. I was making bacon for myself as an experiment. Next thing you know I’m making 10 pounds, 20 pounds at a time. One week I could only buy by the case, not a single pork-belly slab, and ended up with 65 pounds,” Rocky said.
He offered it for sale and it went so fast he tried again the next week. That sold out quickly and he had a waiting list, so they started going at it more seriously, getting licensed and approaching it as a real business. They expanded from two to three to four farmers markets and Rocky quit his full-time job as a dump truck driver, but they soon hit their limit.
“There’s only so much table space, only so many products you can bring to the farmers market,” he said.
If they really wanted to expand, they realized, they needed their own storefront. Smokeshow Barbecue had a walk-in cooler and hood system, so the transition has been smooth.
“We recently hired our first full-time employee,” Rocky said. They’re open five days a week, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and do some catering along with the storefront. They plan to keep going to the Concord and Salem farmers markets, which have indoor space and run all year long.
At the storefront they’ve expanded into merchandise and some prepared foods but have no plans to go too far down the sandwich-and-sides route. Their bread and butter, so to speak, remains smoked bacon in all its delicious forms, including a one-pound burger that’s half beef, half bacon.
“The pork comes from Canada – they have a little bit stricter regulations. We take raw pork, and make everything from scratch in-house,” Rocky said.
And the sign, which had been installed right before this interview? Well, you know what it says.
“Just in the last week we had several people come in, saying ‘I saw the sign – it said bacon. I had to check it out!’ ”