A Modern Day Butcher Shop
Meet Kate Kavanaugh & Josh Curtiss, the owners of Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe in LoHi
Portrait by Ashton Ray Hansen
Kate Kavanaugh was a 15-year vegetarian when she succumbed to the allure of an antelope burger. Offered up across the table by her then-date and now-partner, Josh Curtiss, that small bite inspired a large business and lifestyle change for the two.
With a background in soil biology and land-management systems and a life in Arizona with her meat-eating beau, she wondered, “Can what we eat be a byproduct of conservation?” The two met with local farmers and ranchers who were practicing regenerative agriculture to pick their brains about sustainable meat production. Inspired by what they learned, the pair applied for a butcher apprenticeship in New York’s Hudson Valley.
“It was supposed to be for two months, but we decided to stay longer and learn everything we could,” says Curtiss. The couple knew they wanted to continue in the trade and chose to settle in Denver for its proximity to the farming and ranching haven of Colorado’s eastern plains.
In 2013 Kavanaugh and Curtiss opened Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe, a whole-animal butchery selling antibiotic- and hormone-free, pasture-raised, grass-fed meat from Colorado. It’s named in honor of Kavanaugh’s great-grandmother, who journeyed from Ireland to the American West, husband-less with five daughters.
The charming shop in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood reflects that pioneering spirit with a nostalgic feel, courtesy of the owners’ handiwork. “We were hoping to create a space that, when you walk in, seems like it has been there forever,” says Curtiss. The shop is stocked with minimally processed dry goods and products made in-house, including bone broth, sausages and deli meats.
“Having a connection to the landscape is so important,” Kavanaugh says. “We came into this because we wanted to heal landscapes. By promoting and producing local meat, we’re trying to deepen that connection and change the way you think about eating.”