The Rail has been the topic of many conversations lately, which of course we love. Sometimes those conversations include not-quite-so-accurate details. So we thought it best to debunk a few myths we've heard lately.
1. Rail beef is not raised on the owners' farm. They raise sheep and soccer players, in addition to fruits and vegetables.
2. Owner Mike Mariola does not personally wrestle the beef to the ground at slaughter time.
So, what’s the deal with Rail Beef?
Rail beef is 100% Ohio sourced. We serve patties that are a blend of fresh ground beef, it's absolutely never frozen. Our patties are custom ground and formed by Blue Ribbon Meats in Cleveland, Ohio. We get deliveries almost every day to ensure freshness and quality.
Local beef is important, and here is why:
-It tastes better: Fresher food tastes better, period.
-It helps our local economy: Ohio beef sales bring in over 500 million dollars a year to Ohio farms. This money goes directly back into our local economy.
-It supports our farmers: Buying beef locally helps support small farms all around Ohio and in Ohio, farming's kind of a big deal.
-Lower carbon footprint: Food purchased from local sources has to travel shorter distances to the end user. This helps reduce transportation and its associated carbon footprint.
-It makes us special: We are proud to be one of only a handful of restaurants in the state that can say all of their beef comes only from Ohio farms!
What do Rail Beef eat? Are they Grassfed?
Our beef comes from all over the State. Ohio is home to thousands of beef farms ranging from small (less than 10 head of beef) to large (over 100 head of beef). We are proud to say that the burgers that we purchase from Blue Ribbon Meats are 100% Ohio Sourced. We believe that the closer you can be to your food source, the better.
The American Grassfed Association defines grassfed animals as those that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from birth to harvest – all their lives. Since our source is so broad (farms throughout the state), we cannot certify the diet. Although much of the beef that makes its way into our food chain is raised on pasture and eats primarily grass, some of the beef has a mixed diet that may include corn, corn silage, haylage, brewer’s grains (leftover grains from beer production – LOVE IT), vitamins and minerals, wheatlage and other mixtures based on specific diet goals, or based on the season (if you'll notice, there's not much grass on the ground in winter). So while Rail beef is not certified grassfed, it's also not what some refer to as "feedlot" beef.
Again, the most important factor of our beef is that it all comes from Ohio farms.
What is Source-Verified?
For beef to be source-verified it must meet strict guidelines, enforced by the USDA, that track each head of beef from birth to harvest. This process requires detailed record keeping and audits. When we opened the first Rail location, we had just one main source for our beef. Due to the high volume of beef we now purchase, this system has changed to include farms across the state. Source verification on such a large scale would be possible, but cost-prohibitive. The Rail beef is not source-verified; however, The Rail beef is 100% Ohio sourced!
No more. We started by hand forming our burgers. Why? The burgers retain a really nice loose texture, like the ones grandma would have cooked on the backyard grill. This is the flavor and texture profile we are looking for. The issue we had with hand-formed burgers is that they cooked very unevenly. We ended up with baseball burgers, hockey puck burgers and ying yang burgers (rare on one half and well on the other). Solution: We worked with Blue Ribbon Meats to make a custom patty plate for their state-of-the-art patty machine. Blue Ribbon was able to calibrate the machine to form our burgers with LOW compression, which gives us the nice fat (or phat) patties that stay loosy-juicy when they come off the grill.