Deadline: NYE Cheese Trays!

Holy 2019 Batman!
Seriously.... At this time last year, we were in the final two days of closing our downtown kitchen... and it hurt... and we were tired... and we'd lost a lot of good people and a lot of money... It was hard not to feel like failures. Indeed, we did feel like failures. But this email isn't about that period of our lives. It's about the perspective it gave us. When we started 2019, our goals were simple (but daunting). Keep the shop doors open, the lights on. Get back to basics. Rebuild. Rebound. Re-fall in love with what we do. Get back to our founding core principle: Passion With Purpose. Tell the story of artisan foods and spread joy one bite at a time. And we couldn't have expected what would happen. Tomorrow at midnight, we will be closing the chapter on what looks like to be our best year of business in the books. We are humbled. We are happy. We are grateful. So hopefully this story can resonate with those of you who were hurt in 2019. Hang in there. You never know. 2020 just might be your best year yet.

NYE Cheese Trays - DEADLINE
It's not too late! Get your order placed online today, and we'll build that beautiful cheese, cured meat, or antipasti board for you tomorrow morning - just in time for you to be the hit at your New Year's celebration. Honestly, whether you're headed to a friend's house or intend to ring in 2020 in a quiet pajama party at home, our selections pair perfectly with bubbles and will make it feel like the perfect way to celebrate. While you technically have till midnight, it would really help us out if you get those orders in by 5 pm (so we can decide how early we need to get in! Honestly, John got in at 2 am last year to build trays. Don't feel bad for him. We needed it. So help get our booties out of bed in the morning, and overload us with cheese tray orders. We dare you. Hah!)

NYE Hours
Mon 12/30: 11 am to 7 pm
Tue 12/31: 11 am to 7 pm
Wed 1/1: Closed Thu 1/2: Closed
Fri 1/3: 11 am to 7 pm - BRING IT ON 2020!

Tastings Spotlight
For those of you who have been in the Cheese Shop, looked across the street, and pondered, "But what do you do over there?" - know that our 110-year old Cheese House is our events venue. We offer both public tasting classes and interactive cheese-y dinners, as well as private events. You can check out our full upcoming schedule online, and you'll see that we're almost sold out of January events. Good news! We decided to add a few last minutes. So here are the January classes that still have tickets remaining. (Otherwise, check out February!)
Taste-Off: Wisconsin vs The World
Calling all Cheeseheads! Think Wisconsin has the best cheese? Come root for your home state! Partnered to a Cheesehead and want the possibility of taking him or her down? Come rally for iconic cheeses of the world! In this tasting, you get 8(!) cheeses with pairings, and we'll vote after each round. Feel free to BYOB or buy our suggested pairings from the shop before class. Offering two seatings: Mon 1/6 or Mon 1/13. Both from 6:30-8:30. Ticket purchasing details here.

Perfect Pairings: Cookies and Cheese

The season is coming. Uniforms. Iconic green boxes... Just when you make your NYE health resolutions, entrepreneurial young women greet you in uniform outside stores enticing you with their cookies. Ah fine. You go for it. After all, it's helping out a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader). Well, we're amping up that game and pairing our fave of these iconic cookies with cheese. (Because honestly, John just wanted to do it last year, and two classes sold out like hotcakes... or like scout cookies!) We'll be purchasing from a local scout and therefore benefitting Girl Scouts of Central Texas. After the tasting, you'll get the opportunity to purchase our cheeses or Scout Grace's cookies, right from your seat. Team thin mint? Team Caramel Delite? Team peanut butter? Come choose how our pairings fit the bill. Offering two seatings: Thu1/23 or 1/30. Both from 6:30-8:30. Ticket purchasing details here.

Top Ten Noteworthy Biz for 2019
NOT in any particular order but just some of our awesome highlights for 2019:
1. Awards! Thanks for voting us Edible Austin Local Heroes Food Shop! Grateful to AFWA for honoring our collective service these past many years. Personally, it was also an honor to an Austin Under 40 Award for Hospitality, as well as a NAMI Mental Health Community Champion.
2. Team Honors - Our very own Andrea Fazio (buyer) sat for the Certified Cheese Professional exam - and passed it! making our team a total of 6 CCPs on staff! Nicholas Kadrlik (our retail manager) earned his Certified Customer Experience Professional title. Production Lead Eleanor Jones, hubby John, and I all won scholarships from the WFFT to sit for the Level 1 Sommelier exam in 2020!
3. Sourcing - Wholesale Director Alex Palomo was selected to travel with Essex Street Cheese to visit Holland, Spain, France, and Italy. John and I took the family to Spain for a month and visited 18(!) makers. Both trips helped us ensure our standards that our cheeses and artisanal goods meet our #DoGoodEatGood mission. Additionally, Alex got to select a special wheel of Comte, carve our name into it, and later crack into it in the shop.
4. Programming - We launched Raclette Nights! And they keep selling out! Andrea and Alex also planned and executed a Black Betty Special Release Silent Disco Party (when I'd never even heard of it) and Events Manager Anna Leone launched our casual music and tasting evenings. On top of that our retail team hosted live Parm Crackings, Comte breakdowns, and other fun shop events (complete with complementary pairings and fresh bites from the center of the wheels!). We had so much fun, expect more of these in 2020 as fun lunchtime treats!
5. Philanthropy - We wrapped up another year supporting dozens of local nonprofits. Our specific monthly partners included Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Amplify Austin, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Austin Parks Foundation, Austin Give 5 for Mother Earth, Urban Roots, Texas Book Festival, FarmShare Austin, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Fresh Chefs Society, Breast Cancer Resource Center, and Slow Food Austin. We also served on the boards of Austin Child Guidance Center, Thinkery, American Cheese Education Foundation, American Cheese Society, and Les Dames d'Escoffier Austin. We mentored through Ceresa and Women@Austin and continued to support the work of Philanthropitch, Good Food Foundation, and American Gateways. This doesn't include the discounts and trade we gave to over 20 other nonprofits and local businesses!
6. Extended Hours - That's right. We opened the shop to full hours of 11 am to 7 pm SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. And thanks to you, it seems to be valuable. So we're keeping it up - at least through our anniversary in mid-February. While this may seem a small feat, it takes juggling schedules, staffing, labor budgets, and more. So go team! (Their decision...)
7. Professional Speaking - John and I set out to share what we've learned - from business to mental health to juggling professional and personal lives. Together, we gave the keynote for the ACS annual conference in front of 1700 peers, as well as the opening address for LocalBizCamp. John additionally was invited back to speak for the Travis County Health Department, and collectively we gave over a dozen talks this year.
8. New Van - While this one may not be the sexy one on your list, it was a huge victory for us. While we've had our own little Transit Connect on the streets for the past handful of years, it's been hurting hauling cheese all over central Texas. So we were thrilled when we added a new bigger van to the line-up. (Can we call it a fleet yet?! ha!) And on top of that, we got a van wrap - so we're branding the highways. Woohoo! Still making it rain cheese in Austin, along I-35, San Antonio, and the Hill Country.
9. Taking it to the Farm - Whew! We held 10 public farm events and 4 private ones. Between our Cheese-y Bus Tours to Pure Luck Farm and our Bubbles, Brunch, and (baby) Goat events at local Bee Tree Farm, we got almost a thousand people onto the farm to see the labor of love that really goes into making artisanal cheese. (Click those links for Spring 2020 events!) We also had the honor of a teambuilding event making cheese and butter with Amelia Sweethardt at Pure Luck Farm!
10. Breaking Records! - In so many ways. For the end of a session and to fulfill a private gift order, we made 110 Cheese Trays in the wee hours of the morning and delivered them all to the Capitol by 11 am on the last day. We filled the most Thanksgiving Bags this year and built more cheese trays than previous years this past Christmas Eve. We increased our monthly events from roughly 10-12 to almost double that...and they're still selling out! And all of that adds up to make our most profitable year yet. So THANK YOU! (Now, before you think we're millionaires, keep in mind this is an independent specialty food business. So it's just great to be profitable. But we'll take it!)

Top Ten Customer Fave Cheeses (ie Shop bestsellers)
1. Flory's Truckle
2. Brabander Gouda
3. Parmigiano-Reggiano
4. Black Betty
5. Challerhocker
6. Kunik
7. L'Amuse Gouda
8. June's Joy
9. Ewephoria
10. Mt. Tam

Top Ten Restaurant Partners (in terms of purchasing quantity)
1. Fairmont Austin
2. Bufalina Due (and Bufalina!)
3. Juliet Italian Kitchen
4. Launderette
5. Justine's
6. Suerte
7. Austin Winery
8. Eberly American Brasserie
9. Sour Duck Hospitality
10. Altstadt Brewery / Royal Fig Catering
*Appreciations to all our wholesale partners, big and small, those that buy ingredient and those that buy cheese plate cheeses, for sourcing through a local, independent business. We know you could go big. We appreciate that you keep local dollars here and stay small.

Stay Cheese-y Austin,
Kendall & John
& The Most Amazing, Hardworking, Passionate Team of Good Food Advocates Around...