Cheesemongers

A selection of cheeses at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe on Marcy Street, which is set to close at the end of the month.

Cheesemongers of Santa Fe, a pillar of the city’s downtown foodie scene for the past five years, will close by the end of March.

The Marcy Street store announced the upcoming closure on its Facebook page Tuesday evening.

“Hello, friends. It’s time for a sad announcement: After five dairy-drenched years, Cheesemongers of Santa Fe will be closing at the end of this month,” the post says. “This is a very tough decision, but we are so full of gratitude to our wonderful customers and the incredibly supportive community of Santa Fe.”

The post promises the shop will be kept well stocked until the last week of March, and it encourages customers to come by, use up any remaining gift cards and say goodbye.

“We hope there’s someone out there that can carry on the tradition of selling great cut-to-order cheese in Santa Fe,” the post continues. “We’d be happy to offer advice.”

Cheesemongers owner Suzy Thompson, who lives in Norman, Okla., said her long-distance ownership played a role in her decision to close the store. Along with her husband, Steve “Wampus” Reynolds, she also owns Forward Foods in Norman, a cheese and specialty-foods store similar to Cheesemongers.

She opened Cheesemongers of Santa Fe in September 2014 with co-owner and managing partner John Gutierrez. Gutierrez, who left the store in late 2016 to go into farming, was a 2014 BizMIX competition winner with the Cheesemongers idea.

He had worked with Thompson and Reynolds at Forward Foods before opening his own cheese shops in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While vacationing in Santa Fe in 2013, Thompson and Reynolds met with a real estate agent who showed them the Marcy Street space. They contacted Gutierrez in San Francisco and asked if he would like to be their “boots on the ground” for Santa Fe cheese store.

After Gutierrez left the operation, Thompson said in an email, she and her husband moved to Santa Fe for a year to try to get the business back on stable ground, “as it was financially unsound. It was an extremely challenging and often painful process, but we were able to get it back on its feet from a financial standpoint.

“However,” she continued, “we could not stay in Santa Fe and we were never able to find another managing partner to help us run it.”

Thompson said, “We explored sale possibilities for Cheesemongers but could not find a path forward that made financial sense to anyone.”

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In its early days, Cheesemongers had lines of customers out the door.

“Cheesemongers introduced Santa Fe to a world of cheese that we never had access to,” said John Vollertsen, better known as chef Johnny Vee, who offers cooking classes at Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe in the DeVargas Center.

Cheesemongers carries more than 100 cheeses, mostly from smaller-scale and farmstead producers from more than a dozen countries, with prices in the range of $20 to $30 per pound and as high as $50 per pound. It also carries specialty foreign foods.

Santa Fe Opera-goers often purchased Cheesemongers picnic baskets for their parking lot tailgate parties.

But the store came at a time of growing options in Santa Fe for cheese lovers.

“The new Market Street has really stood up and focused on cheese selection, trying to keep the pricing reasonable, making exotic cheese more affordable,” Vollertsen said, speaking of the Albertsons offshoot at the DeVargas Center.

Lauren Stutzman, who worked at Cheesemongers for two years and now has her own business in Cerrillos, Picnic Catering & Events, cited La Montañita Co-op, Whole Foods and Smith’s Food & Drug as also offering elevated selections of cheese.

“As for Santa Fe becoming known as a foodie city, having a cut-to-order cheese shop was one more box you could check,” Stutzman said of Cheesemongers.

She acknowledged the store’s breathtaking prices limited its clientele.

“But for the mainly white, mainly affluent people of Santa Fe and for visitors,” Stutzman said, “they could learn a lot about cheese from around the world and how cheese is made.

“One customer had a tasting notebook and tasted everything,” she added.

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(11) comments

Nancy Lockland

Take your WHITE clientele based cheese store elsewhere. Byeeee

Harvey Wright

Regarding prices, I was able and willing to splurge on cheese here from time to time, and loved their generous sampling policies. What tripped me up was that their POS always requested a percentage based tip in addition to the high prices, which meant suggested tips were also often high. I wanted to support the workers and tip well, but with an already high bill, knowing I'd also have to tip became a deterrent. I wish I could just have been assured the workers were paid a living wage and have that built into the price, and avoid this awkward and unclear moment. Seems like the prices should have already been high enough to pay employees living wage, but who knows with that location. I'll miss ya cheesemongers.

Stefanie Beninato

The person making median wage in Santa Fe could never afford the Cheesemonger's prices. I think the cheapest cheese is $30 plus/lb. These businesses need to realize that they need a local base and not just second and third home owners. And why is this story still prominently displayed when another snafu at city hall has been taken off the today's headlines even though it just appeared today? The papers seems to want to give Webber a pass every time.

Sloan Cunningham

https://linktr.ee/picnic_nm

Steve Spraitz

Gee, and I get a 2 pound loaf of tillamook extra sharp cheddar for under $10.00 at sams club

What a deal . $50.00 a pound ?

Dan Three

Was there a reason she had to mention the race of Cheesemonger"s clientele? I don't see the relevance.

Paula Lozar

Yep, what was the point of that remark?

Andrew Lucero

"She acknowledged the store's breathtaking prices limited its clientele."..... No need to say more.

Barry Rabkin

Quality cheese (from around the world) is not cheap.

BARRY SILVER

this article's reference to '' breathtaking prices'' makes my day. thank you.

when setting retail prices for a wide range of consumer package goods, we referred to middle market or popularly priced, or affordable or mass market etc, and for those expensively packaged items, sold at upmarket or luxury end prices, it was usually top end or '' priced for the discriminating user.''

now, '' breathtaking prices '' is a new one on me and perfect. i'm passing it on to my former colleagues.

no one who has the cash for $50 a pound more that once a year will pay it. norman oklahoma must be a really special place, if that's the pricing strategy there.

Andrew Lucero

I just got to know how much margin there is on a 50 dollar 1 pound hunk of cheese!

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