"Nine years ago," says Liz Thorpe, "when no one cared about cheese, we started selling cheese at Murray's, a small cheese shop in New York, and thanks to some amazing people with a genuine love and passion for cheese, we've become one of the best cheese shops in the country."
Murray's, which Forbes.com has called the "world's best cheese shop," has 31 stores throughout the United States, including the first mini-Murray's Cheese shop in Denver, which opened on August 14 inside the Glendale King Soopers at 4600 Leetsdale Drive.
"Three-and-a-half years ago, we formed an exclusive partnership with Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers, and we couldn't be more excited to launch our first store in Denver, a city that prides itself on being local and sustainable," says Thorpe, the vice president of Murray's, author of The Cheese Chronicles and co-author of The Murray's Cheese Handbook.
The launch of Murray's in Denver is part of a multi-state roll-out that will also include locations in two additional King Soopers stores in the metro area: the King Soopers at 2750 South Colorado Boulevard, and the King Soopers at 6000 South Holly Street in Greenwood Village; Murray's Cheese will open in both stores by the end of September. And by the end of November, there will be three Murray's Cheese shops in the Boulder area, followed by several others in the mountains.
Each store, notes Thorpe, will carry upwards of 175 local, domestic and international cheeses, which are grouped by style, similar flavor characteristics and texture. The Gelndale King Soopers currently carries a dozen local cheeses sourced from Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, Jumpin' Good Goat Dairy, Rocking W Ranch and MouCo Cheese Company. "We have common cheeses and fancy cheeses, but they're accessible to everyone, and they're also affordable," says Thorpe, adding, too, that none of the cheeses are pre-cut, and that all of the cheesemongers are Murray's trained.
"Our goal," stresses Thorpe, "is to demystify cheese and make sure that each store has a great cross-section of cheeses to choose from." And while the cheeses are wrapped in plastic rather than wax paper -- the preferred wrap of choice for storing cheese -- Thorpe insists that plastic is just fine. "I like plastic, because it keeps mold from growing," she says. And the turnover and volume at King Soopers is so high, she notes, that using plastic wrap just makes the most sense.
In addition to cheeses, each mini-Murray's trumpets salumi products, jams and preserves, honeys, olive oils, and an olive and antipasto bar. "Each of our King Soopers stores will carry around 400 items," says Thorpe.
If you want to mingle with some of the cheesemakers (and taste their cheeses), the Glendale location is hosting several upcoming events where you can do do just that -- for free.
Here's the schedule:
August 18 and 19: Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy 4 to 7 p.m.
August 21: Jumpin' Good Goat Dairy (and their goats) 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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August 26: Wine and Cheese pairings 4 to 7 p.m.
August 27 and 28: Cheesemakers from Rocking W Ranch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
September 9: Sartori Cheese Company 3 to 7 p.m.