3 Ways To Ensure An Excellent Product, From The Man Behind America's Best Burgers

Pat LaFrieda supplies many of New York's premier steakhouses and Minetta Tavern, home of the city’s most expensive burger. Here's how the burger maestro ensures every bite is perfection.

Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors is based in New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City. There’s enough beef, pork, and lamb on site to make more than two million meals. As it is, the company provides enough meat to serve 300,000 customers per day, including the 50 custom-blend burgers LaFrieda is famous for. If you haven't had one, Fast Company recommends a visit to Shake Shack to try Danny Meyer's proprietary blend, stat.

But this is no nine to five, and Pat isn’t telecommuting. He arrives at work in the late afternoon, and will spend the next 12 to 15 hours personally overseeing every step of receiving, storing, butchering, packing, and shipping the meat. Only decades of experience—his family has been in the business since 1922—and long hours inspecting every cut can inform the level of expertise it requires to control quality and recognize greatness. And if it's not great, out it goes. "You don't drive into Manhattan and spend $60 on parking for this chop," he sniffs at a less-than-perfect specimen.

If any of his 1,000 customers has a problem, his cell phone number is on every receipt—there is no question about whom to call. For LaFrieda, extreme accessibility is the first commandment of great customer service.

Pat LaFrieda

“We sell meat and a service,” LaFrieda explains. “We need to get meat to our restaurant accounts as fast as possible. If there’s an issue, we need to correct it immediately. Restaurants don’t want to hear, ‘I’m sorry.’”

LaFrieda also sees micromanagement as an asset. There are no managers employed on the processing floor. So if something isn’t right, LaFrieda himself will know exactly where the problem is.

Of course, the only real way to know if everything is as it should be is to taste the meat. So he does. All night long.

“I eat about two pounds of meat a day,” he says. “Mostly raw.”

Now, that's commitment.

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4 Comments

  • Chris Reich

    While I do like his commitment to quality, his organization method isn't very good. If he is doing what he wants with his time, I suppose that's his business. 

  • Mike

    While I respect what he does, two things about this article trouble me.  First, that he works 12-15 hours a day.  I hope that dealing with animal flesh is his highest joy in life, because he's choosing to spend virtually all his waking hours doing it.  And second is that he feels like he has to be personally accessible to each of his 1,000 customers.  Good management is being able to groom others to be as good as you are, and being able to delegate to them.  

    Just my two cents worth -- I'm sure he makes a killer burger.