Help a Neighbor in Need
Every morning this week, we’ve had a call-in huddle of our leadership to check in on each other - starting with identifying who is/was without power, water, and provisions. And from that meeting, each manager checked in with each team member… until we could account for the daily wellbeing of each team member. For over 60 hours, we had multiple team members without power in weather as low as 2 degrees. And the worst part was that we couldn’t get to them. We couldn’t help. When two were able to venture out, they stood in lines at the local grocery store for 4 hours just to be able to eat that night. Yep folks, if you’re not in Texas, let me just say, it’s been pretty dire. And where others failed to properly plan (ahem, no politics here), neighbors and the food industry (led by many single actors on a mission to help others above their own safety) have worked 24/7 to fill the need. Feeling desperate to “do something,” John was able to make it into the shop. Unfortunately, both our Cheese Shop and Cheese House had lost power for over 48 hours. And because of that, we had to waste and throw out lots of product. Knowing people were hungry, it’s heartbreaking. Fortunately, our walk-in cooler held temp, and we were able to donate about $5,000 of cheese and produce (that we use for our cheese trays) to Good Work Austin; coordinator Adam Orman delivered it to St. David’s Hospital. Fueled by the energy of living our mission, we ventured out again today and made 150 “Protein Packs for Neighbors in Need,” which we were able to deliver ourselves to RBJ Health Center (organized again through Good Work Austin).
We have yet to calculate our business losses this week and we’re not sure what insurance covers. Between abandoned cheese tray orders on Valentine’s of about $2500 (due to the weather), product we threw out, donations of an estimated $7000, and potential water damage, it’s not looking good. And on top of that, we know it’s the only right thing to do to pay our team, even though we were closed. Calculating losses can wait; that isn’t what matters right now. While our neighbors are still in need, and our team members are still without water and rolling power, and our communities across the state of Texas - including maybe you! - are hungry, we’ve got work to do.So! What can we do about it?!
Resources to Help
I mentioned Good Work Austin above; read about their 3-part mission to support healthy employees, a healthy workplace, and a healthy community. Spearheaded by a passionate few willing to bring us together, GWA efforts these past few days have been nothing short of miraculous. They’re making over 1500 hot meals daily, assessing community needs, and distributing meals (no easy task on these roads!). Just a handful of the awesome participating restaurants I’ve seen included are: L’oca D’oro, Colleen’s, Henbit, Black Star, Chi’lantro, Contigo, Shwarma, Salt & Time, and more. You can donate here and I’ll personally guarantee your money is wisely spent.
You can also purchase (tax-free) a “Protein Pack for Neighbors in Need” directly on our curbside website here. It’s not for pickup. We’ll make sure it gets to folks who need it, prioritizing folks affected in this winter storm and carrying it forth into the ongoing pandemic. (Each is $7.50. Want to purchase multiple? Just up your quantity.)
Other outlets to support that have “boots on the ground” include Runner ATX, a facebook group that started up in the pandemic as a group of laid off hospitality folks who were willing to make errand runs for folks, especially immunocompromised folks who couldn’t go in places. Their page has CashApp, PayPal, and Venmo ways for you to contribute. They physically went around delivering propane stoves, then getting folks into hotels, and now making and distributing hot foods.
I’ve also heard that Austin Area Urban League has an emergency fund and is rallying to support our community. Plus, there’s Community Resilience Trust, Survive 2 Thrive, and I’m sure many other warriors who will remain nameless as they work tirelessly behind the scenes.
Reopening Saturday - Let’s REBOUND!
Many of you have asked how (and when!) you can support us. While things are day by day, our current plan is to reopen for curbside this Sat 2/20. That means you can start ordering now for curbside pickup! Just imagine those long grocery lines. Now imagine you pulling into a parking spot and picking up a a DIY spread… To help us rebound, we’d love for you to purchase from us! That said, we admit that we won’t have as much cheese as we work to rebuild our stock from everything we lost. (We’ll also be limited on trays as we source more veggies and fresh fruit.) So while we’ll have some limitations, which we’ll be adding to daily as orders come in, remember that you can get lots of cured meats, wine, beer, cider, pickles, olives, jams, honey, crackers, and more. We all just ate through our pantry provisions. Time to reload - and help us out while you’re at it!
Virtual Tasting Class - Hard to Get Cheeses (Local Pickup Only)
The other way you can help us out is to purchase virtual tasting tickets from us! On Feb 24, John and I are excited to host a virtual tasting of “Hard to Get Cheeses.” Whether they’re not available here regionally, are very limited production, or are going extinct (yes! We’re featuring two of our faves made by retiring cheesemakers!), this will be a fun class in which you’ll be treated to lots of specialty goodies you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Join us for Facebook Live with the Antonellis! While we’ll be live from 6:30-7:30pm, you can always watch the video later that evening at your leisure, accessible on our Facebook videos page.
Charitable Cheese Cause - Mon 2/22
This Monday, we’re donating 5% of shop online orders to Austin Shift Meal, a grassroots effort dedicated to providing meals to hospitality workers without work due to the pandemic - so that no one goes hungry. If you appreciate all the hospitality folks running around serving folks through these storms, this is a good way to support them back. Sign up today for our virtual Cheese 101 Class on Monday (with curbside the same day). Or make an online purchase that day. And everything benefits this great org.
Feb & March Virtual Tastings
Local: Our remaining February schedule is here. PLUS, we just posted March events. You can search by class topic here or by date here (scroll down and click on the date). Questions? Check out our most frequently asked questions here.
Outside Austin: While we can’t ship you our cheese class plate, you CAN still take a virtual on-demand cheese tasting with us. Check out our Cheese Class in a Box, available for nationwide shipping in the continental USA. Each box has enough goodies to feed up to 4 folks (or leftovers for 1 person!), comes with a 10-min plating video, and an hour-long guided tasting led by John and me (Kendall). Folks can simply enjoy everything at their own leisure or take the included class. (Note that any orders made online now will be shipped the first week of January.) Current selections include:
Stay Cheese - y!
John & Kendall
And Your Awesome Cheesemonger Team.