Cheese Cave Grand Opening

| Say Cheese!
I met Marnie Clarke a couple years ago in a hotel room in Chicago. In Gordon and Sheana's room at the historic Hilton, site of the 1968 Democratic Convention and riots to be more specific. It was during the American Cheese Society's annual conference and I was busy having my mind blown by all the amazing, empassioned, artistic, kindred spirits I found myself surrounded by. This was home, and these people were soon to become like family.

Marnie and I were the new kids, each of us sitting and standing quietly, taking it all in as the rockstars of the cheese world stumbled in for a drink with friends and fellows seen only as often as the circuitous routes of cheesemongering allow.

Little did I know, the two of us would bond over the years in a fellowship that would draw me to Claremont, California this last weekend to see and have a hand in the culmination of a dream, a vision, a genesis...

Last year, the ACS conference was held in Austin, Texas. There, Marnie and I connected again and quickly became friends, along with her sister Lydia and mother Donna (who I really know more affectionately as "Goose")... over the course of the conference, we shared experiences galore and fast formed dear friendships and mutual admirations. It was in Austin that the Clarke sisters broke the news to me of their decision to start a business... to open their own cheese shop!

Over the course of the last year, I've touched base often... though not as often as I'd like... and consulted with them in regards to nearly every aspect of running a cheese counter, and I did so openly and freely. They were pursuing a dream (and one that I share), and I wanted to do everything I could to help them succeed.

When Lydia attended the NASFT Winter Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco, I made sure we met up and I introduced her around to several folks I thought she should know. With help from myself, Sheana, my boss Steven, and other friends and kindred business spirits, we made sure to give Lyds solid guidance and send her home with notes and connections to ensure success in getting them going in the right direction.

From afar, I shared the pursuit of their dream vicariously, offering advice every time I was asked, sending messages of support and inquiry, and making myself as available as I could whilst remaining focused on the success of my own cheese counter.

As opening day grew ever nearer, yet never really set in stone, I itched to be standing alongside Marnie, Lydia, and Goose. I wanted so much to be there, but my own schedule was becoming fuller by the day.

Finally, Marnie messaged me and told me they had a date for the Cheese Cave's Grand Opening, Saturday July 24th... and was it possible for me to make it?

It was barely weeks away, and I had coworkers out on vacation that week... I cautiously and reservedly told her that chances were very unlikely. Abuzz inside and determined, I sat down and looked at the schedule for that week and the next. A little pencilwork and a couple phone calls later, I called the Cheese Cave and said, "we're a go!"

Last Friday, I worked from 8am to 6pm, came home, went to the airport, and flew to Ontario where Lydia picked up me and her boyfriend Reed (who landed from the Bay Area just ten minutes later). We picked up some beers, went to the shop, and worked late until around 3:30am setting fixtures, shelves, displays, and making sure things were in order for the following day's festivities.

Saturday, we awoke, ate breakfast, hit the shop around 9:30 or 10, and went straight to work prepping for things to come. Guests showed up before the event to buy cheese, and even though the doors were closed, we let them in for service and gladly helped them find fabulous fromage. LA Magazine came and did a shoot and interviewed the girls. By noon we were ready, and the madness began once we openned the doors and rose quickly to crescendo!

The event was scheduled to run until 4, but we kept the doors open until almost 6:30 because people kept pouring in. What teamwork and camaraderie! Each of us was a link in a chain that drove the party steadily onward... selling, cutting, wrapping, cleaning, schmoozing, laughing, crying (there were a few tears of joy shed), cringing, hugging, sighing, and in the end standing together, holding eachother up with arms and smiles and laughter enough to sustain almost the hungriest of hungers... though consensus was that we needed beers and burgers and we needed them fast! And so we closed the doors, but opened the book and stepped out into a story of success in the pursuit of a dream... This is only the beginning for the Clarke clan, and I am blessed to count myself amongst them.

My heartfelt congratulations, thanks, adoration, and respect to the rest of the team: Marnie, Lydia, (Donna) Goose, Noah, Reed, Milan, Kristen, and Felix!

Best of luck, my friends.

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This page contains a single entry by Emiliano Silva Lee published on July 27, 2010 7:42 PM.

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