Who We Are
Fairway Packing Company is a unique blend of old-style packing house quality and service plus state of the art equipment and the newest technology to provide the finest finished product to the customer. Located in the heart of Detroit’s Eastern Market since 1989, Fairway provides the highest quality Prime meats to Michigan’s finest restaurants. We have a reputation as one of the cleanest and best facilities in the Midwest. We are USDA inspected and HACCP compliant.
What We Do
Fairway offers Prime beef, both dry -and wet-aged, as well as Wagyu beef and Piedmonte beef. Other products include premium pork, veal, lamb, poultry, wild game and custom ground burgers. Our courteous and informed sales staff is available day and night to provide the best information and quickest service. Our family has been dedicated to providing the best meats and poultry for 60 years. Whether it’s working with award winning chefs to create new product ideas, supervising production from start to finish, or making sure every order receives special attention, we are personally involved at every level to insure we always provide the best of ourselves to you.
Who We Work With
Fairway sources the finest and most sustainable farm programs to raise our cattle. This guarantees the finest and most consistent cuts of beef.
Thanks to our knowledgeable and hard working sales staff and a state-of-the-art production facility, Fairway Packing Company is the only Michigan restaurant meat distributor to be voted to the National Top 200 Purveyors by Meat Processing Magazine.
The Fairway Story
How It Began
Picture it. Northern Italy. Early 20th Century. Our great-grandpa Baratta earns his living as a butcher, instilling his love for this ancient, beloved trade into his son, our grandpa. It was more than a job, more than a way to make a day’s wages. It was a calling of sorts, this dedication to the craft of butchering meat. Most importantly, it planted the seed for what was to come.
Eventually, the lure of a better life called and our grandpa, Emmet Baratta, Sr., and his brothers made their way to the United States, coming through Ellis Island for their shot at the American Dream. After a brief time in Philadelphia, the booming auto industry in Detroit led grandpa and his brothers to the Motor City and good jobs at Chrysler.
But the auto assembly line wasn’t where our family destiny lay. Grandpa Baratta reached back to his Northern Italy roots and to the lessons he’d learned from his father about being a butcher. And from there, a simple idea was born: break down hanging beef exclusively for the butcher shops in the Detroit area. Grandpa wanted to make meat delivery quick and easy by doing something that no one else was doing and being the best at it. It’s a lesson we’ve never forgotten.
And so, in 1956, a family business was born.
Into The Future
The dawn of the 1970s ushered in a new era for the family business. Emmet Sr.’s son, Gene, joined the business in 1970 with a burning mission to bring the purveyor/chef relationship to a whole new level of excellence. His singular focus was on quality and giving Michigan’s finest chefs and eateries a peerless experience. His brother, Joe, came aboard in 1978, sharing Gene’s dream of becoming the best meat purveyor in Michigan. And they did it through good old-fashioned hard work, the kind Emmet Sr. taught them, and by concentrating all their efforts on building rock-solid relationships that would carry the company straight to the top.
Gene and Joe easily resisted the temptation to grow the business through mass production of product. There would be no such thing as pre-cutting a bunch of steak and crossing their fingers that they would sell. Instead, they had a “crazy” idea: what if they went directly to the premier chefs at the finest eateries in town and asked them, “How do you want your meat cut?”
It was a wild idea. Unheard of. Cutting steaks to order? Actually finding out how a chef wants his burgers cut, how he wants to grind his chops? “They” said it would never work! (This wouldn’t be the first – or last time “they” would say this).
But work it did. The Baratta brothers would meet with the foremost chefs in Detroit, find out exactly what they wanted, then would go back to their butcher shop, cut ’em, fabricate ’em, and deliver ’em to the chef, ready to go. As word got out about this highly specialized and personal approach to being a meat purveyor, business went through the roof.
Gene’s favorite saying was, “What your chef wants is what we do.” In other words, we weren’t here to tell the chef how we were going to do things. The chef was the boss. Every order was unique and every order had to be handled with love and cut with passion.
Quite simply, there could not and would not be any other way. It was the only way.
More Than A Name
The end of an era came in 1987 when Emmet Sr. retired and Gene decided the time was right to give the company a new name: Fairway Packing Co.
Fairway is much more than just a name. It’s family.
If you know anything about Grosse Pointe, you know Fairway Drive, which runs right through the heart of Grosse Pointe Woods. As Grosse Pointe was being built, the very first house on Fairway Drive belonged to Grandpa Emmet and our Grandma Angeline. Our dads and uncles all grew up on Fairway and Grandma Angeline loved living on the street and took a tremendous amount of pride in the area she called home.
Grosse Pointe is our backyard, our tight-knit community where there is no such thing as a stranger. That’s exactly how the business was cultivated – through authentic relationships built on mutual respect and admiration. We want to know how your kids are doing, where you’re going on vacation, how that new puppy is working out. Just like old friends chatting over the back fence, sharing a couple of beers – that’s how it was done on Fairway Drive and that’s how Fairway Packing Co. would thrive into the future.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Grandma Angeline.
There is no other way to say it, except, our grandma was the best.
Grandma Angeline was the true matriarch of the family, possessing a warmth and elegance that made everyone feel loved and special. She had an incredible knack for being the rock for everyone in the family and handling even the toughest of situations with grace, humor, and sensitivity.
Of course, if any of us brought home a bad grade, not only did we have to deal with our parents, we had to face Grandma and Grandpa. Talk about motivation to succeed. At their heart, they always wanted the best for all of us.
Some of our favorite memories from childhood are Sunday dinners at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. All of their sons, aunts, uncles, and cousins would come together for the most amazing food – mouthwatering roasts, succulent prime rib, incredible breaded steaks – and so much more. She cooked every dish from scratch and taught all of her daughters-in-law how to make the family recipes in order to ensure that the Baratta family traditions carried on for generations to come. Food brought us together then and it keeps us together today.
More than anything, Grandma and Grandpa put each and every one of us first and instilled in us the importance of family and a passion for excellence.
It’s that continual drive for perfection that is the heartbeat of everything we do.
The Third Generation
The late 90s and early 2000s finally saw the realization of Grandma and Grandma’s long-held dream: all of their boys working together.
When Gene and Joe’s brother, Emmet, Jr., joined the business in 1998, the circle felt complete. One of the first major milestones that this new lineup achieves is making Fairway the first meat purveyor in Michigan to source directly from farms that specialize in sustainably and humanely raising the finest cattle in the world (“they” said it couldn’t be done, but no surprise, Gene, Joe, and Emmet, Jr. got it done.)
As the 2000’s rolled on, the third generation rolled in, as Gene’s son, Emmet, along with his cousins Gino, Joey, and Peter officially took the reins.
We want to be clear about something: we paid our way in through hard work. Grandpa’s stamp of approval didn’t come easy and he put us all to work at an early age, sweeping the floors, taking out the trash, and scrubbing the toilets. If there was a job to be done, we did it. We learned every aspect of the business top to bottom, inside and out.
Still, we can admit that when we took over, we had visions of world domination. A massive warehouse! Laser cutters! Fairway would be in Las Vegas! South Florida! New York! Our name in lights on every coast. People from Phoenix to Philadelphia would be eating Fairway steaks. We’d be huge!
Fortunately, common sense intervened in the form of Gene Baratta, who told us, “Instead of concentrating on being the biggest, just worry about being the best.”
By focusing on being best, we would not only know the meat we were cutting, we would know that we were cutting quality. We would touch each piece of meat and know where it came from. We see it, we touch it, we cut it. Gene hammered the message home that if we got too big, we’d lose sight of what made us different from the rest and that’s cutting a product for an individual customer, not an assembly line.
Thank goodness we still had the second generation around to sit us down and slap talk some sense into us, because guess what?
They were right.
The Sustainable Way
The path to being the best meat purveyor wasn’t paved with hundred thousand square foot warehouses or a row of top-of-the-line laser cutters. It would be in innovation, in thinking not only how can we do this differently, but how can we do “different” better.
We decided to take the idea of sustainability started by our dads and uncles to the next level by intentionally seeking out farms that raise their animals using a natural process and deciding to buy from them directly.
Once again, we heard, “You can’t go to these farms directly.” Crazy! Can’t be done!
And once again, we said, “We will.”
And we did.
Our vision was animals who weren’t pumped full of antibiotics and other things we don’t even want to imagine. We wanted free-range and grass fed. This burgeoning philosophy led to us adopting the principles cultivated by Dr. Mary Temple Grandin, a scientist and animal behaviorist who is a champion for the humane treatment of livestock. She believes that by treating the animals properly and keeping them calm and raising them in a serene and beautiful environment, the quality of the meat is elevated into something truly special.
Our search for high-quality, highly ethical farms led us to such premier brands as Imperial Wagyu, Diamond Ranch, Piedmontese, and Dakota. When we visit these farms, all our eye can see is land that is lush and green and grounds filled with pristine beauty. There is not one brand on our shelf that we wouldn’t look at their farms and say, “We’d take a vacation here.”
Believe it when we say, all that beauty makes for a beautifully different product.
The Fairway of Today
Through the years, we’ve kept that core belief that meat delivery to our customers should be a unique experience. We don’t use laser cutters and we don’t mass produce because we’re about cutting quality – always. Even when you buy meat online from us, you’re getting fresh, organic meat that’s customized just for you. All-natural meat, handled with love and cut with passion – that’s the Fairway way.
By concentrating on being the best, the accolades came (“build it and they will come”). Men’s Health magazine named us to its Best Life’s Best List. The National Meat Processors Association recognized us as one of the Top 50 Meat Purveyors in the United States. We built the first state-of-the-art Himalayan salt dry-aging room in Michigan.
Today, we’re innovating once again with our retail space. The coolers are stocked with Grab and Go versions of all our most popular cuts. Local chefs host one-of-a kind demos featuring steak flights, specialized cooking techniques such as how-to sous vide a steak, and Cuts 101, a quick guide to the different cuts of steak and how to prepare them at home. Customers can observe the in-store demos while sipping on a complimentary recommended wine or beer, which are also available for purchase.
As we continue to grow and evolve the business, we will always have Gene Baratta whispering over our shoulders:
“Instead of concentrating on being the biggest, just worry about being the best.”