He’s Williamsburg’s jar head.
Shane McGarvey launched a small-batch soup delivery business out of his Williamsburg apartment — and he found one way to remain a step ahead of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed Styrofoam ban: reusable Mason jars.
Rather than rely on the flimsy, lightweight packaging peddled by most delivery joints, the 39-year-old farmer from coastal Maine pours his homemade broths into quart-sized glass vessels and shleps across North Brooklyn once a week on foot making deliveries.
All that backbreaking labor is worth it the moment his small customer-base tastes soup that has never touched plastic.
Plus, it’s good for the environment.
“When I deliver the next week, I pick up the jars,” said McGarvey, who charges $12 per quart. “The down side is that the jars are heavy.”
The jars aren’t the only thing that’s special, according to McGarvey, who works as a website designer when he is not making or delivering soup, or tending to his New England farm.
“I get whatever is fresh at the store and make whatever comes to mind,” he said. “I make up the names first and people get into them and then I have to figure out how to make them into a soup.”
So far, his most popular soups are anything made with bacon.
“I buy it in huge slabs with the skin still on and fry them up in one-inch cubes,” he said.
The substantial weight of his product keeps his delivery radius small: he only goes from just south of the Williamsburg Bridge to N. 10th Street.
But he balances out the heavy load by taking long breaks between his arduous journeys — and that helps him build rapport with customers.
“My deliveries take forever because I’m always sitting around talking to people for an hour for each delivery,” he said.
McGarvey currently has about 30 people on his weekly e-mail list, most of whom found him via the internet or word-of-mouth.
The soup maestro is toying with the idea of selling his creations, which include a whitefish and chorizo medley and a roast cauliflower and garlic mix, to shops around Brooklyn, and is working on a cookbook with his photographer girlfriend Mel Barlow.
Soup fan Teddy Knitter found out about McGarvey’s soups on Reddit.com and the two quickly struck up a friendship based on broth.
The two usually meet at the bar Luckydog on Bedford Avenue, where Knitter picks up his weekly supply of three jars of soup.
“It feels a little bit like a drug deal,” said Knitter. “I’m meeting a guy at a bar and he’s pulling out jars of soup in exchange for cash.”
To order Shane McGarvey’s soup, visit mcgarveybarlow.com.Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@c
©2013 Community News Group
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