Your neighborhood butcher

Your neighborhood butcher

By Marlen Lebish

Your neighborhood butcher

By Marlen Lebish
Meet alumnus Luis Mata, CEO of Meat N’ Bone, a purveyor of fine proteins, powered by tech that delivers right to your door.

After earning his MBA at Miami Herbert, Mata ’12, continued his career in finance which started working in logistics with UPS and Ryder System. Then, after years of dissatisfaction with area meat markets and online retailers, he found himself opening an online butcher shop with two of his closest friends.

“I love Miami and everything it represents, in the last 20 years this city has transformed into one of the coolest places on earth but one thing it has always lacked is good meat,” he said. “I used to travel to the Midwest and any steak at local farms would be leaps and bounds above anything I could buy at my local supermarket or butcher shop. After spending too much money on a short rib plate at one of Miami’s ‘premium’ butchers, I decided to look into building a high-quality butcher shop.”

The ideation of Meat N’ Bone was easy. The challenge was navigating the large and complicated meat industry. But much like he did during his days as an MBA student, Mata hit the books and did his research.

“It’s tough trying to start a business,” he said. “You need capital, and you need to know the industry inside and out.”

They wanted to raise capital, but it was taking too long, so they decided to bootstrap the business.

“I think our start-up capital was less than $5,000, but we made it work. We coded our own website, took our own pictures, we even built our own furniture. We started with a small space in the back of a friend’s restaurant, who we paid him $600 a month in rent for 300 sq. ft. German (my business partner) left his job and went in full time.  Me and Gabriel (my other business partner) continued to work our full-time jobs elsewhere.”

The other challenge was finding the right suppliers that aligned with their vision of quality.

“It took a while to build the network. Getting the best providers on board to work with us was tough, even our concept of a butcher shop was a hard sell to these companies which are used to working a certain way. But we got it done, we enlisted the high-quality farms, plants and providers to bring down the best beef in the Midwest. We took a risk by choosing to develop 120 products, more than any other meat market, the best in every class and category, cut it how we wanted it and got it ready for sale. Our product arrives from Chicago on a truck on Mondays and Fridays.”

When COVID-19 hit, many businesses were forced to close from one day to the next, however, since Meat N’ Bone’s focus was technology, delivery, and shipping, the business was prepared.

“Our employees were already used to working in an exceptionally clean environment and using gloves. So, all we had to do was add masks and physical distancing protocols. At the beginning we closed our stores, but after it was deemed safe to, we re-opened and just put COVID protocols in place. Our customers appreciated it and valued our business model, so we grew significantly during COVID.”

The pandemic also created an opportunity for Mean N’ Bone to expand into the restaurant business—The Wagyu Bar, which serves Meat N’ Bone’s most emblematic products.

“We were able to negotiate a favorable rate on a lease and opened a restaurant in the middle of the pandemic!”

Reflecting on his MBA years, Mata said he enjoyed all his classes and the UM experience.

“But the best part of my MBA experience was my classmates. Perhaps I got lucky, but I was among such an amazing group of people, most of us are still in touch after almost 10 years.”

His advice to current Miami Herbert students: “Enjoy the little things and build relationships. You will learn as much from your fellow classmates as you will learn from the professors. Enjoy the ride while it lasts and have fun! Life is about balance.”

As to his favorite Meat N’ Bone cut, he says it changes all the time. Right now, it would be a Domestic Wagyu Denver Steak.

“I like to roast a bone marrow and place the marrow on top of the steak. The Denver is the perfect steak, more flavorful than a New York Strip but less fatty than a Ribeye.

As an appetizer, I usually grab some of our Ora King Salmon and cut it into sashimi. I eat it with a hint of wasabi and soy sauce.”

Currently, Meat N’ Bone sells over 300 products of the finest quality and have expanded to seafood, and has three brick and mortar retail locations with plans to continue to grow.