by RENEE PATRICK Cascade Business News Feature Writer
Pono is a Hawaiian word meaning righteousness; brothers Ted and Shin Nakato are trying to use this righteousness in their business model at Pono Farm & Fine Meats. In growing, butchering and preparing the naturally raised beef and pork from their farm in Culver, their goal is to provide Central Oregon with a consistent source of quality meat at competitive prices.
The Pono Farm shop on 63595 Hunnell Road in Bend (behind Lowe’s) operates as a butcher shop and restaurant. Chef Jay Clark uses select cuts from Wagyu and Red Angus beef as well as heritage breeds of Berkshire and Red Wattle pork. Other ingredients in his cooking are sourced locally and will change seasonally.
The Nakato brothers grew up on the east coast in a family entrenched in the restaurant business. Ted has been running several restaurants in North Carolina while Shin and wife Kelli have been farming cattle at the families’ Culver farm for the past nine years. While the two brothers worked together to open the business, Ted has been commuting from North Carolina and hopes to eventually move to Central Oregon. Shin runs the day to day operations at the farm and the pair have hired over ten employees between the farm and shop.
The idea for Pono came about as the brothers found it increasingly difficult to find a consistent source of quality meat for the family restaurants, so they decided to get into the production side of the business. The pair recognized Central Oregon as a nitch market with consumers desiring locally produced and healthy food. Ted shares, “Folks in Bend like living a healthier lifestyle and help support the local businesses. We want to provide a premium product at a reasonable price…since we are the farmer we try to pass some of the savings on to the customer.”
The cows are raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics or animal based feed. The two farms raise about 200 head of cattle, 120 hogs and some egg-laying chickens to provide the restaurant with fresh free-range eggs. The brothers are proud of their method of raising animals, the cattle are fed a diet comprised of mostly grass and locally grown hay. The pigs are grown slowly and the brothers want reintroduce the kind of pork that was grown before the days of the genetically enhanced ‘commercial’ pork that grows rapidly with the boost of growth hormones.
The business opened in mid-March. Ted Nakato reports the location has been a challenge as the business is located off the highway and can be hard to find, but they have enjoyed a loyal customer base. The butcher shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10am–6pm and the kitchen serves food from 11am–6pm.