One of Pagliacci Pizza’s smallest but most celebrated purveyors, Salumi Artisan Meats, has a problem most businesses crave: demand exceeds supply. This has been true since 1999 when Armandino Batali first opened the doors of his “pipsqueak of a place,” in the words of R.W. Apple.
But exciting changes are in process.
First, for those of you who don’t already know, Salumi moved about two blocks into a much larger retail space at the corner of Occidental and Jackson, the former home of Rain Shadow Meats.
Second, Salumi is nearing completion on a new state-of-the-art production facility in South Seattle that will allow them to increase production, add new flavors and new product lines.
Driving these welcome changes are new co-owners Clara Veniard and Martinique Grigg, who bought Salumi in October 2017 from Gina Batali and her husband, Brian D’Amato. Rather than arrive on the scene with big plans in their back pockets, Clara and Martinique spent the first year apprenticing, listening and learning. “We wanted to learn from as many voices as we could what makes Salumi a really special place,” Clara says. “So many people came together to make Salumi what it is today, Armandino and Marilyn, Gina and Brian, the people that work there, and the customers. We worked in all parts of the organization, including arriving at five in the morning to make salami.”
A “For Lease” sign in the Rain Shadow window precipitated the move to the larger retail space. “We hadn’t planned to move, but it was just perfect for us—only two blocks away from our old location—and as a former butcher shop, it had everything we needed. We reused everything that was already in place,” Clara says.
In addition to paint, they made a few notable adjustments: They added a private dining room and communal tables, both memorable features of the old location. “We believe good things happen around food and we love bringing people together to enjoy that experience” Clara says.
An ever-present line is another familiar memory, but it now moves much faster. At peak times three registers are open, someone walks down the line taking orders, and a grab-and-go case has cut wait times by two-thirds.
When the new production space opens, Salumi will have an easier time meeting demand. “Pagliacci is a good example of our production challenges,” Clara says. “Our facility is so tiny right now we just haven’t had the capacity to meet Pagliacci’s demands. That’s the problem we’ve had with everyone. Last December, we got to the point where we literally couldn’t fill most orders. But now that we’ll have enough space we will be able to meet their needs.”
After 40 years in business at Pagliacci, you can bet we’ve seen many companies change, not always for the better. And we couldn't be more thrilled with Salumi’s evolution. We’ve been a customer since 2006 when they began making a special spicy pepperoni for us and have seen first-hand the challenges they’ve had keeping up with demand. We’re excited to be able to buy more of Salumi’s meats, like their rosmarino salami and to-die-for meatballs, as well as their finocchiona and mole salami, both of which just may land on future seasonals. Salumi has the right team in place to grow—their head of production worked under Armandino, as did much of the kitchen staff, one of their chefs, and many in the deli—and they have the resources to do it right.
“We have people who’ve been here over 20 years, since the very beginning,” Clara says. “The first person who Armandino hired still works for us. It amazes me the level of care that I see from everybody on the team. They take great pride in what we’re doing here.”