Over the Summer, I sent out requests for cheese shop owners to complete my “Cheese Shop Survey.” I was, and still am, curious how a successful cheese shop operates. Once I delved deeper into the grilled cheese world, I realized how interested and intrigued I am by all things cheese. Especially now with an ever growing cheese culture in Ohio, and the formation of the Ohio Cheese Guild, I want to learn as much as I can about cheese. I have visited multiple creameries (Mackenzie, Lake Erie) but, unfortunately, cheese shops are almost non-existent in the Cleveland area. Therefore, for the moment, the Internet was the only way to learn all about cheese shops. That is where the survey comes in…
Thank you very much to the following shops who took time out of their busy schedule to fill out the survey and allow me to use their responses in this post: Champagne + Fromage, Cafe Fromagerie, The Courtyard Dairy, Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese, Fairfield Cheese Company, Wedge & Bottle, 109 Cheese and Wine, St James Cheese Company, Astoria Bier and Cheese, Cured, The Cheese Shop, Venissimo Cheese, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.
Now, onto the results, which are completely unedited:
Why did you get into cheese shop business?
My sister and I were looking to do something different and we thought that it would be a good idea to work together. We both have backgrounds in the food business and we both have a love of cheese. We have seen small cheese shops operating in other towns and we thought that Barrie needed one too. So here we are! /// Cafe Fromagerie
For the love of cheese…..And because of my relationships with the top artisan cheese makers in Wisconsin /// Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese
I love great food, especially cheese and there was very limited options as far as where to buy cheese in our town. /// Fairfield Cheese Company
Since we met we had always dreamed about owning some kind of small specialty food shop together. We threw around ideas for years and after starting to take wine a little more seriously we quickly realized that our interest for cheese was taking over. By this time we were at a point in our lives where we felt we had some flexibility and guts that we wouldn’t have later on in life so we jumped in head first and here we are. /// Wedge & Bottle
Because we accidentally fell into it and never looked back. /// St James Cheese Company
We love cheese. The shop is truly built around a collection of our favorite things. All are products from people we believe in, want to champion, and are proud to share with our customers. We’re small and as such have to curate heavily, but people come to trust that no matter the price point, if it’s on our shelves it is there for a reason. Plenty of business reasons in the mix of course, but the driver was passion. /// Cured
Wanted a job in High School (1976) /// The Cheese Shop
I always wanted my own business and I love cheese. My family is from Austria and my favorite shops there are the specialty shops, bread, meat and cheese. One day, the light bulb went off: I love cheese and why doesn’t America have great little cheese shops? That was more than a decade ago. I now do what I love and love what I do. /// Venissimo Cheese
How long have you been in the business? & How long has your shop been opened?
Some people have just opened their shop within the past couple of years or so with that being their first venture into the cheese world. However, others, have been “in the business” for many years with their shops open for more than 5 years. The experience varies wildly to say the least.
What hours is your shop open?
The hours of each cheese shop truly didn’t vary that much with most shops opening between 9-11 am and closing somewhere between 5-8. Bucking the trend, Champagne + Fromage located in London, closes at 11 pm Monday – Saturday while Astoria Bier and Cheese located in Astoria, NY, closes at 11 throughout the entire week.
Are you happy with your location? If not, why and how would you change it?
Out of all the shops that completed the survey, not one outright said no. It is great to hear that all these cheese shops across the country and world, are so happy with their locations.
We were really lucky that we had the opportunity to open a shop in two locations we chosen. We can now offer two different experiences to our customers through the atmosphere of Covent Garden and Brixton Village, and are really proud of that. /// Champagne + Fromage
We have a great location right next to a spectacular wine shop with an amazing wine and beer selection and people who are knowledgeable. If I could change one thing it would be the no sandwich clause in our lease. It is there to protect a deli in the plaza that really doesn’t draw the same customer. /// Fairfield Cheese Company
Love it! Some tourists but mainly a great neighborhood with easy access for locals. /// Cured
We love each of our neighborhoods and each is unique. Parking is the biggest issue, something that is always tricky in big cities. /// Venissimo Cheese
Absolutely. Great real estate and lots of foot traffic, plus perfectly aligns with our values of transparency to have all of our cheese produced behind large windows. /// Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
What is your specialty?
Wisconsin Artisan Cheese…we do not sell any imported cheese /// Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese
We try to stay about 60% domestic cheeses. We are the only cut-to-order shop in town so even though we are small we work hard to offer a rotation of a wide variety of cheeses not available anywhere else in town. /// Wedge & Bottle
Specialty cheeses and Craft beer (bottles and draft) /// Astoria Bier and Cheese
American cheeses and meats. Off the beaten path wines. /// Cured
expertise and service /// The Cheese Shop
All the best cheese from all over the world. We do one thing and try to do it the best, educating and having fun along the way. We offer pronunciations, milk types, pairing suggestions and oodles of samples. Our mission is to share the goodness and joy of cheese. /// Venissimo Cheese
Do you have tables/serve food? & Do you sell alcohol?
Overwhelmingly, the shops surveyed do serve some type of food, with the variety varying wildly. The majority also sell some sort of alcohol, but not as overwhelmingly as food. Some shops allow in store bottle service while others do not.
Tell me something unique about your shop.
You won’t find another place to travel in France in the heart of London ! We are the only shop offering such a wide range of Cheese and Champagne in London and you will be surprised about how these two classics wonderfully pair! /// Champagne + Fromage
We are the only dedicated cheese shop in Barrie /// Cafe Fromagerie
we only do 25 cheeses, but each one the farm has been visited and is a truly special cheese /// The Courtyard Dairy
It is a European style cheese shop offering cut to order artisan cheese and dry cure meats. We have a beautiful “bistro” patio in front, right next to the town marina. /// Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese
We have outstanding customer service, the ability to record customers purchases and a loyalty program. We have amazing community support. /// Fairfield Cheese Company
Our shop is a place where we have brought in all of the products that we love and stand by. We love to share our passion with our customers and to have conversations about why we believe good food and drink is made with simple but high quality ingredients. We also love to pair anything with cheese from the obvious wine & beer to pickles, chocolate, jams, and honey! /// Wedge & Bottle
We have our own wine shop and classroom /// 109 Cheese and Wine
It’s in New Orleans and staff members have moved here to work for us. /// St James Cheese Company
We are a hybrid shop. its a cheese/craftbeer bottle shop and small cafe. /// Astoria Bier and Cheese
Our Cured de France each July has a huge following. I am an ex professional cyclist and it’s a great opportunity to bring together my past and current lives into a great 3 week cheese and wine extravaganza. /// Cured
Where shopping is an Old World pleasure. /// The Cheese Shop
Every purchase comes with a very descriptive receipt that includes the cheese name, pronunciation, country of origin, description, and food and beverage pairing suggestions. We can also track of guest favorites in case they can’t remember the name of their purchases. Finally, guests can try anything before they buy. We are positively passionate about cheese! /// Venissimo Cheese
Our shops have our cheese making production right on site, allowing people to see and know more about where their food is coming from. /// Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Again, thank you very much to all of the respondents of this cheese shop survey. I greatly appreciate it. The insight you have provided is invaluable and extremely unique. It truly has educated me on the business of the awesome cheese shop. I wish all of these wonderful shops continued success.
Long live cheese…