It started after a couple found a cheese store they loved in Grand Rapids. After it became a regular stop during their visits to the city, they decided they wanted to bring The Cheese Lady to metro Detroit.
At first it didn't look like it was going to happen, says Joe Mantey, co-owner of The Cheese Lady that's opening today in downtown Farmington at 33041 Grand River Avenue.
The business owners, who had started the first of three stores in Muskegon many years ago, were ready to put the cheese slicer down and cut out a life as retirees.
"But after they heard about my involvement with Farmington Main Street and downtown re-development, they decided to do one more store," says Mantey.
"They had opened their store in Muskegon for the same reason we want to: to help bring the downtown back," says Mantey.
The Cheese Lady's founders came to town, saw that there were vacancies to be filled in downtown Farmington, and said OK to a franchise.
In the meantime, Mantey, his wife Kendra, and family and friends began marketing the business that's known in western Michigan by selling at the Farmington farmers market, which is across the street from the new shop.
The new store will open with 70 varieties of cheese, with samples set out on stainless steel work tables. Eventually 150 varieties will be sold as well. Wheels of cheese can be pulled from the shelves while a cheesemonger "will directly interact with customers," Mantey says.
"There are no deli cases between the customers and the cheesemonger," he says. "And no one has to be embarrassed about asking to sample, it's all out."
Eventually The Cheese Lady in Farmington plans to sell Michigan craft beer and wines that pair well with cheese. Crackers, preserves, and cutting boards are also for sale, most made in Detroit or Michigan.
Source: Joe Mantey, co-owner, The Cheese Lady in Farmington
Writer: Kim North Shine