The secret is out: What started as an easy sell when restaurants were closed due to COVID-19 has become a popular new option for people in the Chicago area to find restaurant-quality meat at bargain prices.
When you first sign onto the Steak Syndicate’s website, you’re greeted by a straightforward message: “An Offer You Can’t Refuse.”
This meat-by-mail business began because of an opportunity that couldn’t be refused.
“During the COVID lockdown, there was a need for people to have a dining-out experience when all of the restaurants closed,” says Bryan Adams, chief operating officer. “We identified that there was not meat readily available that you would get at the nicer steakhouses. Sure, there is USDA Prime at Whole Foods, and Mariano’s, and places like that, but not restaurant-quality prime meat. And we found a way to access that meat through a large distributor that usually works only through restaurants. We now have multi-year contracts, so they will continue to supply us, which is an opportunity we’ll be able to take advantage of post-pandemic.”
Thus was born Steak Syndicate, a Barrington-based business that offers top cuts of meat as well as chicken and seafood delivered to your door. Adams’ business started in March 2020 and officially launched last April.
What sets Steak Syndicate apart from other mail-order businesses, like Omaha Steaks, is that it operates through memberships. While you don’t have to purchase a membership to place an order, it does help reduce the cost of every order. Tangiers VIP level gets you 35 percent off all purchases and Corleone Club level gets 50 percent reduced.
“This way, members get top-quality meat at the same price as the restaurants would pay,” says Adams, and not what restaurants or grocery stores would charge.
Many members start at the Tangiers level, says Adams, “but about 30 percent end up upgrading to Corleone.”
While the Corleone level is perhaps the best value, he adds, the Tangiers is ideal for people who order for special occasions like holidays and reunions.
One year into the new venture, Adams says it’s been a rousing success, driven especially by the quality of the meat and the customer service.
Beef cuts come in a wide range, from dry-aged tomahawk steaks to Wagyu burgers and filets. The 38-ounce porterhouse is “a monster,” Adams says.
“Our petite filets have been most popular,” he adds. “It’s hard to find a good-quality 6 ounce cut. It’s portioned in a way to feed anyone in the family, whether it’s the head of the household or the kids.”
True to form, the gourmet hamburgers are also a cut above the rest.
“It’s a gourmet blend that comes in patties,” says Adams. “It’s the same as you would get at a nicer steakhouse. We also sell USDA prime ground beef for those who want to make meatballs or their own hamburgers.”
About 75 percent of Steak Syndicate’s product is sourced through a large meat packer that typically works with restaurants. The other 25 percent, like the Wagyu beef and seafood, comes from other sources Adams works with directly.
As for the service, quality and freshness are the name of the game. Generally, Steak Syndicate orders will arrive within one to four business days. Service is mostly limited to the greater Chicago area. Place an order by visiting steaksyndicate.com.
“We cut most of our meat fresh daily,” Adams says. “If you’re buying our hot sellers, it will likely come the next day. But, a lot of times we’ll get it there the same day, hand-delivered and not through a courier or FedEx.”
Adams has one more offer that’s hard to refuse.
“Because we’re really trying to establish ourselves and we’re trying to focus on the surrounding suburbs, we’re giving Northwest Quarterly readers a special offer,” Adams says. “When you sign onto our site, use the promo code NWQ25 and get 25 percent off your annual membership fee.”