Brave attempt at specialist low & slow BBQ retail butchery falls over

Beef Central, 24/04/2023

The Low N Slow Meat Co outlet at Brisbane’s historic Rivermakers precinct


Story updated 9am, Monday 26

AN innovative Brisbane red meat retail venue which was forging a path as the nation’s first dedicated ‘low-and-slow BBQ retailer’ has closed its doors permanently.

The specialty Low N Slow Meat Co outlet in Brisbane’s inner southeast closed its doors today – just 48 hours after tens of thousands of visitors attended a food and music festival in the surrounding Rivermakers precinct. The Rivermakers site, built around a series of heritage buildings, also includes a boutique brewery, distillery and functions precinct, but the Low N Slow BBQ outlet was a key feature.

The up-market smokehouse butchery, featuring recycled heavy timber structures and expensive, modern fit-out was stocked with some of Australia’s best known beef brands in whole chilled primal and sliced form, including Greenham’s Cape Grim, Australian Agricultural Co and Bindaree Beef.

Additionally it stocked a wide range of pre-cooked and pre-smoked heat-and-serve items including briskets, ribs, shanks and other items.

Low & Slow also stocked a vast range of BBQ smoking woodchips, charcoals, rubs, marinades and sauces, and the specialised wood smoker ovens used to prepare the items themselves. The site regularly hosted ‘smoking schools’ for keen barbecuers, and became something of a gathering point for the Texas BBQ smoker movement in Brisbane. It also claimed to be used for wholesale trade and preparation.

The venue was opened only about 18 months ago by Brent Poulter, who operates a string of successful premium burger joints across Brisbane. It relocated from an earlier more modest site at Tingalpa, which operated for six years.

So what went wrong?

The business’s Instagram account said it had faced “plenty of challenges out of our control since relocating from Tingalpa.”

“The decision to close was made by us – we have not been forced to shut – but any good BBQer will understand that if you starve a fire from oxygen it will go out,” it said, somewhat cryptically.

“Unfortunately due to many factors out of our control, the oxygen in our fire has been very limited…. It’s an impossible situation.”

There was no prior warning of the closure, however the site was advertising 20pc discounts off all stock during Saturday’s Rivermakers festival.

“So crazy that somebody would force you out like that,” one Instagram follower responded.

Brent Poulter and wife Amy on front of one of the smokers at Low N Slow during the site’s opening

However others saw the site’s location, in a discrete industrial area on the Brisbane River at Colmslie, as being a challenge for any retail business.

In Beef Central’s judgement, the out-of-the-way site was definitely a ‘destination shop’, but it did not stop a steady stream of customers arriving in the car park, especially closer to, and over the weekend. Perhaps trading in the early part of the week was slow, and as any retailer knows, it’s impossible to run a business that trades profitably only two or three days a week.

Based solely on Beef Central observations, the average spend through the store was particularly high by meat retail standards, as many customers were buying whole briskets and multiple other large items from high-end beef brands, often worth a few hundred of dollars.

Fridays and Saturdays appeared to be the peak trading periods. Labour challenges may also have contributed to the closure, one observer who knows the business said. Others pointed to high lease payments, after a ‘holiday’ opening period.

Low & Slow principal Brent Poulter’s parting remarks on Instagram were “Although this chapter of the Low N Slow Meat Co book is finishing, it’s certainly not the end of the story. To be continued…..” he wrote.

The Low N Slow retail outlet, left, was part of the Rivermakers precinct in Brisbane’s inner southeast

Zoning stoush at centre of closure?

An article in today’s Brisbane Courier Mail suggested a council zoning stoush is at the centre of the Low N Slow closure.

Low N Slow’s landlord Balfour Irvine is embroiled in a long-running legal stoush with the council after his company was slapped with enforcement notices banning retail trade at the butchery, court documents show. The land is currently zoned for industrial use.

There has been a long and often bitter battle over the zoning and use of the land with neighbour, meat processor Australian Country Choice – much of which has played out in Brisbane metropolitan media. For a century or more, the location has been used for industrial purposes only.

Dunhill Properties, a company owned by Mr Irvine, filed an application in the Brisbane Planning and Environment Court in October last year, seeking court approval for the sale of meat to retail customers at the Low N Slow Meat Co.

The application was made after the Brisbane City Council slapped the company with two enforcement notices, the Courier Mail reported. The first notice on November 1, 2021 demanded Dunhill and Low n Slow Meat Co “cease use of premises as a shop until all relevant approvals have been obtained”.

It also stated that part of the premises was not considered ‘warehouse use’ because it was selling single units of goods to the general public in-store, and online for collection.

The Courier reported that Mr Irvine’s development manager told the court in his affidavit that after the first enforcement notice, Low N Slow continued to store, process and distribute meat products on the site, and it continued retail use as an “ancillary use” under planning law.

The second enforcement notice on June 2 last year maintained the council allegation that the premises was being used for a shop and educational establishment – as it was offering meat cooking classes for $150 per class.

After it was built in early 2021, the site was zoned for industry and the Low N Slow Meat Co “emphasised the premises would be used for the production, storage and distribution of meat products”, court documents stated.

Dunhills planning expert Chris Buckley told the court in his affidavit that “no development offence has occurred” because the retail component is “ancillary to” the wholesale component of Low N Slow.

While the legal case is ongoing, Dunhill lodged a development application with BCC seeking a change of use of the site to allow for a shop as well as a food and drink outlet.

Dunhills planning expert Chris Buckley told the court in his affidavit that “no development offence has occurred” because the retail component is “ancillary to” the wholesale component of Low N Slow.

Low  Slow Meat Co The group chief executive officer Brent Poulter told the court in his affidavit that 70 percent of the Low N Slow site was used for cold storage, smoking and butcher rooms to process wholesale meat product.

The case is due back in court today, April 26, for review.


Click here to view the Courier Mail article (paywall protected).






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  1. Robert Hamson, 08/09/2023

    Absolute great place to buy meat; very helpful and pleasant staff.
    An absolute gross misconduct of justice for this business to close its doors.

  2. Peter F Dunn, 26/04/2023

    On reading this report one has to be forgiven for seeing this as red tape strangulation of business. Clearly there are many more facts to this story, but it begs the question about whether this is a case of unelected bureaucrats exercising power which is contrary to the business and free market values of their employers, or is it a case of unelected bureaucrats being allowed to do what they are doing?

  3. Sad but not suprised, 26/04/2023

    Very sad to see them close but not surprised really as they were only ever opened during the day. It would have been good to see them open in the evenings for dine in or take away.

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