Matt Kenney did not intend to go into the meat business. And he wasn’t too keen on the idea of moving to his wife’s native Louisville, at first. But now he’s a project manager for Mattingly Foods and the owner and managing partner of a meat delivery service. And he’s become a huge cheerleader for the city and never wants to leave.
Kenney’s three-week old startup, Feed the Party, delivers all the fixin’s for a tailgate party or a cookout (well, almost all … you’ll still need to get your own beer and paper goods) right to your door. In 39 states it will arrive in two days … and shipping is free.
Each Feed the Party package comes with high quality Mattingly Foods meats, the appropriate buns and condiments including Henry Bain sauce (did you know Mattingly Foods is the exclusive distributor for this iconic steak sauce?), and Bourbon Barrel Foods salt and pepper. The food is packed in a foam cooler with a massive chunk of dry ice.
“Meat’s not fun,” said Kenney. “Tailgating’s fun.” And Kenney should know; he comes from a sports business background, having worked in ticket sales for both the Chicago Cubs and the Bulls. Most of the meat industry, Kenney says, is family-owned and there’s little innovation happening. And certainly not much fun.
But tailgate parties are fun. So are cookouts and vacations. He suggests you could order a package right before a cottage vacation and put the cooler straight in your trunk. They also make great care packages (that force people to share and be social) and thank you gifts.
“Feeding people and making people happy is a great job to have,” says Kenney. His enthusiasm is infectious. While tugging on a hairnet and snapping up the coverall jacket, I had to practically jog to keep up with him as he led me on a quick tour of the processing room. His eyes sparkle when he talks about the care that the Mattingly Foods butchers and processors take with the meat.
He said his goal was to deliver quality food to people’s door at an affordable price — to get a service like Omaha Steaks or even Mattingly Foods’ own A. Thomas Meats into the hands of a broader consumer base.
And that starts with offering free shipping. Shipping at Allen Brothersstarts at $19.95 for one item. So you’re going to spend $59.95 for 16 six-ounce burgers and then $19.95 on top of that. That works out to $5 per patty. A. Thomas Meats offers free shipping for orders over $150. Feed the Party doesn’t even offer a package that’s over $100.
A portion of sales goes to the Dare to Care food bank. He chose that nonprofit because they’re in the “feeding people and making them happy” industry too. And his wife works there.
All Mattingly (and therefore Feed the Party) beef comes from Creekstone Farms, which started in Kentucky but relocated to Missouri.
The smallest package is the “Party Starter” for $59.99. It includes eight burgers and buns, two strip steaks, two pork chops and a small tin of Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt and another of Smoked Pepper. The biggest package is the “King of the Party,” which includes all of that plus two more strip steaks, two filets, six andouille sausages and buns, a 2-pound pork roast and a bottle of Henry Bain sauce for $99.99.
Kenney insists that because he has such a great team, the company can’t possibly fail. He thinks Louisville offers tremendous potential to a startup like his because, in part, of the proximity of UPS. (It doesn’t hurt for his business that this region is so particularly college sports daffy either.)
But Feed the Party, because of its relationship to Mattingly Foods, has an advantage most startups do not: the ease of scalability. “If we receive an order for 1,000,” says Kenney, “We could fill it. Most startups can’t do that.”
Kenney’s challenge is going to be to spread the word through social media (their Instagram feed will make your stomach growl — if you’re a carnivore) and possibly alumni associations and actual tailgating events. There’s not much money in the budget for marketing.
It’s possible in the future Feed the Party will truly be a one-stop shop (except the booze, which is too tricky legal-wise) for a party and offer paper goods, additional condiments, utensils and more as add-ons. But he plans to keep it to local products as much as possible.
With tailgating season on the horizon, go forth and grill with food that will make you happy. (Unless you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, in which case I doubt you’ve finished reading this article.)