Couple opens specialty cheese shopStore to offer variety of cheeses
Belfast — Cheese connoisseurs and amateur foodies alike can rejoice as a new specialty cheese store makes its debut in downtown Belfast.
Tony and Natalia Rose have always been passionate about food, and cheese especially, and both joked about opening a cheese shop at some point in the future. However, Tony, while working in the medical management field, realized he wasn’t satisfied with his employment and decided it was time to take a chance and open the store the couple always dreamed of owning.
That dream manifested in the couple’s first journey into the food service industry with the grand opening of Eat More Cheese April 17.
“We looked at different locations but we loved the Belfast area,” Tony said. “I’m originally from Montana and my wife is from Russia and we loved how the downtown area is so alive here.”
Natalia, who was busy helping a steady stream of customers, said she is still in shock they are living their dream.
“I still can’t believe this is happening. This is something we joked about doing and now we’re doing it,” she said.
The couple’s joking about the cheese shop didn’t just plant the seed for opening the business but also resulted in a fitting name for their store.
“We were sitting around one night throwing out names and Natalia jokingly said we should call it Eat More Cheese,” Tony said. “We laughed about it at first but then I thought ‘Yeah, that would work,’ and that’s how the name came about.”
In addition to determining what to name their business the couple also needed to find the right location, which was key because the Roses said they wanted to locate to an area where people truly appreciated the quality of small businesses.
“The people in this area seem to be really in tune with the quality of service you get in small stores. We looked at the success of the Belfast Co-Op, which is the biggest in the state, and realized this was the right place to be,” Tony said.
Eryn Lord Porter, member services representative at the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce, said she was excited to see the Roses open their business.
“I stopped in to see them yesterday and it’s nice to see a young couple take a chance and start a business. It’s a risk in this economy to do that, but I think they will do well here,” Porter said.
Opening a new business presents its own set of challenges, and for Tony and Natalie, who had no prior experience in the food services industry, opening a cheese store was especially challenging.
“Learning about the food services industry was definitely the toughest thing,” Tony said. “But other than that everyone has been super helpful; especially the town and state with obtaining the necessary permits.”
Eat More Cheese, which sits behind Northern Lights Gallery, offers a wide selection of cheeses that range from goat cheese to aged Parmesan.
“I would like to expand our selection and bring in more local cheeses,” Tony said. “One of the things I consider when selecting cheeses is that I have to be comfortable with the quality of the cheese. If it isn’t something I would eat then I’m not going to bring it into the store.”
Being selective about which cheeses to showcase in the store is important as two of the Roses customers, Lisa Flynn of Grenoble, France, and Mary Lou Ridley of Solon, stopped by to purchase a few wedges of cheese.
“I’m really fussy about my cheeses,” Flynn said. “I love cheese.”
For Ridley, the decision to check out Eat More Cheese was a little more direct.
“The sign said Eat More Cheese and we said, ‘OK,”’ Ridley said. “We decided to come in and check it out.”
When customers come into the store, whether they are well versed in cheeses or are unsure what cheeses pair best with certain foods, the Roses are hoping to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
“We don’t want to be an intimidating shop,” Natalia said. “People can come in and sample anything.”
Tony added the hope is to expand the store to the point where they will be able to offer classes and wine tastings, as well as carrying specialty beers.
“This should be a fun process whether you know anything about cheeses or not,” Tony said. “We want people to come in and try things out because that’s the best education.”
For more information about Eat More Cheese go to eatmorecheese.me or at Facebook.com/eatmorecheese.