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Turning a Family Tragedy into a Family Business

Published Monday Mar 13, 2023

Author Scott Merrill

The Butcher's DaughterPictured Above: Kim and Brian O’Leary, owners of The Butcher’s Daughter. Below: a sandwich from the restaurant. (Courtesy of the Butcher's Daughter)

The daughter of a butcher, Kim O’Leary’s love for fresh, homecooked food began as a child growing up on a small farm in Massachusetts, but her journey in the food business began with a stop at Disney University, where she attended an internship program and later became a chef’s assistant in a three-year program. She then worked as a food broker representing companies and large manufacturers, such as General Mills and Tyson Chicken, and then a business resource specialist for Sysco, helping restaurants and schools grow their business with marketing and menu strategies and working alongside chefs. It was there she met her future husband, Brian, who was a corporate chef.

SandwichAnd then the course of her life changed in 2020 when the pandemic hit, she lost her job and her father unexpectedly died. “It was a very challenging time. My dad and I had a great relationship, and we shared many common interests, from cars, Nascar, camping and our shared love of food,” she says. At the time her father passed away, Kim spent many hours with her mother during COVID restrictions. “We sat around talking about life, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I put the idea out there of starting up a food trailer, and mom came up with the ‘The Butcher’s Daughter.’”

Kim and Brian, who lived in Massachusetts but owned a second home in Jefferson, decided to set up the food trailer in NH’s North Country where they wouldn’t be charged for parking. “New Hampshire was a lot more supportive with the food trailer than Massachusetts,” says Kim, who set the trailer up at food markets in Gorham and Lancaster in August 2020. 

The couple eventually sold their home in Massachusetts and moved to NH full time. In June 2021, they purchased the former Saladino’s Italian Restaurant and Market in Gorham, and Brian joined the business full time. “The food trailer went very well so I ventured into the building,” Kim says, adding, “It gets cold up here.” 

The Butcher’s Daughter is an eclectic mix of butcher shop, deli and country market, selling marinated meats, fresh custom cut meats as well as sandwiches, salads, homemade snacks, pastries, meals to go, local beer and wine, soups, desserts, coffee, breakfast items and antiques. Brian, a butcher who handles all the meat orders, butchering and seafood cutting, says they didn’t want a restaurant because of the difficulties COVID had created for that industry. “We wanted to fulfill our dream. In the area, there was nothing around like this. We wanted to do our own thing,” he says.

The Butcher’s Daughter is known for its sandwiches. “Kim’s sandwiches are what put us on the map,” Brian says, with the Digger, (pronounced “Diggah”) among their most popular. A Thanksgiving specialty sandwich loaded with stuffing, turkey, gravy and cranberry mayo, it is named after Kim’s cousin. “Every year at Thanksgiving…forget about the meal, it was all about the sandwiches that night. I like to think I make the best thanksgiving sandwich, and that’s our number one selling sandwich,” Kim says.

For Kim, having a family business is a dream come true. “My dad would be proud and excited to be a part of this,” she says.

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