Whole Foods, that juggernaut of upscale shopping has opened a new store on Houston Street and in stark contrast to their other New York City outlets, this store is serious about cheese.
It's a persistent mystery to me that WF rather ignores cheese in New York City. Until now, there stores had the same Citerella caliber selection of middlebrow cheeses. For a store that labors so mightily to tell you how much they value locally grown produce and small producer goods, it always felt like something of a contradiction that when it comes to cheese that they would buy so many factory made products and sell them in precut, cellophane suffocated pieces.
I rather suspect that that was the plan for Houston Street and that what is now the cheese cave was going to be a wine shop. However, in one of NYC's most unfortunately quaint laws, you can't sell wine and food under the same roof. Since WF makes a lot of money selling food, the wine had to go. Enter cheese.
Great cheese is sold in NYC but it's typically done at the boutique level (my weekend employer, The Bedford Cheese Shop is one such boutique), so I'd often wonder what it would look like if a big store sold great cheese.
Now I know.
And it is pretty but I doubt it'll last. WF hired away a buyer from Artisanal, brought in big name consultants, and hung pictures from Neal's Yard. They have cheeses from Rolf Beeler, Herve Mons, Luiggi Guffanti and several other key figures that cheese lovers revere. So far so good. The one thing they didn't do was train the staff.
Hell of an oversight. If you can't present great cheese well, then the public that doesn't know the diference will stick to the middlebrow cheeses since they cost about half as much.
I've been three times and each visit I keep wondering what they'll put there next.