Montgomery cheddar, Epoisses and Bayley Hazen Blue—oh my!
These are just a few of the cheeses you’ll find at Artisan Cheese Company, which recently relocated to Central Avenue in downtown Sarasota’s rapidly expanding Rosemary District.
After six-and-a-half years on Main Street, Artisan Cheese Company owner Louise Kennedy Converse decided to move her cheese emporium to a bigger space, allowing her team to stock more cheeses, offer a wider array of pantry goods and classes (her recurring Cheese 101 course usually sells out) and even open an apprentice kitchen.
That apprentice kitchen was a true community effort, coming to life as a result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised $48,624 and helped turn Converse’s vision into reality. Surrounded by enormous glass sliding panels, the apprentice kitchen hosts a variety of classes and allows customers to get a peek at how the cheese shop’s magic is made.
“It's the heartbeat of our shop,” Converse says, “and I feel like it will be the heartbeat of our community once it is up and running.” She’s partnered with Girls Inc. to offer a unique classes to a cohort of women; students will learn all about food safety, knife skills and even financial competency.
“I hope that the apprenticeship will give these individuals the tools to be successful,” Converse says. “We want them to fall in love with hospitality and service.”
And then, of course, there’s the dairy. The cheese selection Converse is able to offer has expanded—in addition to butter, crème fraiche, and house-made yogurt—and the shop is now serving scoops of locally made Lackey’s Artisan Ice Cream, as well. “Who doesn’t love ice cream?!” Converse says.
Additionally, Artisan Cheese Company stocks a wide variety of pantry goods, including Inna Jam, Congaree and Penn rice and grits, chocolate, Big Spoon nut butters, crackers, canned goods and more. Customers can even buy local produce. Lunch is served on Monday-Fridays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and cheese boards are served all day. As Converse says, “Milk is magic.”
Artisan Cheese Company is located at 550 Central Avenue and open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.. For more information, call (941) 951-7860 or email at [email protected]