For Jason Barnett, life is all about the meats.
Owner of the recently opened Barnett Meats & Deli in Oakhurst, Barnett said though he’ll offer vegetarian options, his shop is meant to be an oasis for meat lovers.
“It says Barnett Meats out front,” Barnett said with a smile. “Not Barnett vegetarian sandwiches.”
A longtime butcher in the Mountain Area, Barnett offers up an array of meats like his signature Hawaiian teriyaki chicken or Tar-Pit tri-tip - think a light hickory, juicy taste - on top of several bread options, as well as soups, sides, and salads, with everything made from scratch.
Drawing inspiration from San Francisco’s famous deli Little Lucca, Barnett said maybe 5% of customers should expect to finish their sandwich in one sitting.
“I’ve got stock in to-go boxes,” Barnett chuckled. “Because I’m pretty sure that if you’re taking on one of my sandwiches by yourself, you’re going to need one.”
The sandwiches, which start at $10, are about eight inches long and several inches high, stacked with meat, trimmings, and in-house sauces.
For burger fans, Barnett offers up what he called his favorite dish, the Barnett’s Baked Burger. A two-inch-high blend of ground beef mixed with red onion, fresh garlic, and yellow and red bell peppers, all baked with cheddar cheese - Barnett said it’s “all the burger it can be.”
“We ground the beef right here in the store,” Barnett said, adding he came up with the recipe with friends while barbecuing two years ago. “So we’re totally in control of how it’s going to taste. When it comes on a fresh Hawaiian roll with all the fixings, it’ll melt in your mouth.”
For now, Barnett said the deli is a work in progress. He plans on opening the butcher portion of the shop - his marinated meats are already available in Vons grocery stores throughout the Valley - in the near future as he finalizes the menu and gets approval from the state to sell alcohol.
After a soft opening May 22, Barnett is also looking for staff so he can keep the deli open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For now though, the hours are 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, because alongside lunch and dinner, Barnett also offers up breakfast items.
One of those breakfast meals is a homemade cinnamon apple maple chicken sausage link, three eggs, any style, and a heaping helping of Barnett’s Big Bear Taters.
“No matter what time it is when people walk through our door, they’re going to get something amazing,” Barnett said. “Especially because we use as much organic and locally-sourced product as we can get our hands on. That goes with our lifestyle. We’re very health conscious, and we’re very aware of what we put into our bodies, so we want customers to have a fresh, organic, hearty, and incredible experience every time.”
Eventually, Barnett said he’ll also start having gourmet travel chefs come in for special food pairings with other businesses, such as the soon-to-open Oakhurst Spirits craft distillery for some truly unique experiences.
As for his history, Barnett is no stranger to the restaurant industry, particularly when it comes to meats. When he started in food service 27 years ago south of San Francisco, he said he built his career by being contracted to set up butcher shops for various owners around the bay.
In 1997, Barnett then opened Mountain Meat Company in Oakhurst, which he ran for five years before closing in 2002. After a long vacation, he returned with daughter Jade, now 2 years old, to set up permanent shop in the Mountain Area.
He said since the soft opening, after he took over the former Supernaw’s BBQ location at 40879 Highway 41 - when the Supernaws moved into catering - his business has been thriving. He said he’s ready to continue showing off the art of the carnivore before his shop’s grand opening sometime within the next 30-45 days.
“This is a stop for carnivores,” Barnett said. “And they’re going to love it.”
As one last thing, Barnett said he also plans on starting an all-you-can-eat Barnett’s Baked Burger challenge, with 45 minutes to consume one gigantic burger about five times the size of the usual order.
“You’ll get a spot on the wall of fame if you can finish it in the allotted time,” Barnett said. “No wall of shame though. That’s bad karma. We’re all about good karma, and happy customers.”