Business

Cheese Louise brings laid-back attitude to Richland store

They're cheesemongers but prefer to be called cheese mongrels.

"That's because we have the knowledge without the pretentious attitude. We prefer a different, more laid-back attitude toward cheese," Murphy Felton said.

She and her nephew, Alex Eberle, are co-owners of Cheese Louise, a Richland shop specializing in fine artisan and farmstead cheeses gathered from domestic and international sources.

The store, on The Parkway off Lee Boulevard, also carries cheese spreaders, platters, crackers, flatbreads, olives, T-shirts and other cheese-related merchandise.

There's also a couch, chairs and tables where you can relax and enjoy a snack and a beverage, whether it's a glass of wine, coffee or tea. There's also free Wi-Fi.

"We want people to stick around. We want to be another place in the Tri-Cities to go that's not a bar," Felton said.

There's also a large area at the back of the store for cheese-tasting classes.

The Richland store opened quietly Oct. 1, but tonight's grand opening will be anything but quiet. Felton and Eberle will be celebrating with a "Cheese Saw Massacre" from 7 to 11 p.m.

Drop by for cheese samples, listen to live music by the Easy Swing Band Plus of Richland and watch for the massacre to begin.

Felton declined to explain exactly what will happen but did hint that it involves a large block of cheese and a chainsaw.

"And any time you have chain saws and cheese you know something will happen," she said.

"Some people cut the ribbon, we cut the cheese," Felton said, then apologized. "Sorry, so many people make that joke that we've found we have to beat them to the punch."

The fun continues Saturday with three free cheese classes: Cheese 101 at 1 p.m.; European Cheeses at 2:15 p.m.; and Wine and Cheese Pairings at 3:30. The last class is limited to 25 people and you must be over 21.

The classes will be taught by Bill Krieger, owner of the original Cheese Louise, located in Tamara's Gifts and Teas, 321 Wellington Ave., Walla Walla. His wife, Tamara Krieger, a chef, runs that store as well her catering business.

Both Cheese Louise locations carry a wide variety of cheeses with the selection changing from week to week.

"We always have 20 to 30 to choose from," Eberle said. "We carry primarily cheese from Italy, France, Spain and Britain plus domestic cheeses including several from the Pacific Northwest -- Beecher's, Sally Jackson, Mt. Townsend, Rogue -- there's quality cheese in our backyard too."

Felton and Eberle also offer cheese trays which include fruit and crackers, custom gift baskets and platters of cheese, crackers and flatbreads for parties. And they deliver.

They also make two cheese spreads. Their goat cheese torta is a blend of cream cheese and goat cheese "that tones down the tang," Felton said, layered with sundried tomatoes and pesto.

"People always ask what it goes with," Eberle said. "We like to say it pairs best with crackers and TV."

Their Fromage Fort is made by blending in a food processor all the tag ends of cheeses left at the end of the week.

"It's always different and always good," he said. "It's great on hot apple pie to make it more savory than sweet. Or, the way I like it best, smeared on a take-and-bake pizza -- delicious."

If you shopped at the farmers markets in Pasco, Kennewick or Richland, you'll recognize Eberle. He sold cheeses from the Walla Walla Cheese Louise at the markets last year.

"The idea was to sell some cheese, enough to pay for my hours," he said.

Instead people were excited to find a cheese seller at the markets and, as the season came to an end kept saying, "You have to open a store."

So Felton and Eberle did.

"Sales at the markets funded this shop," Felton said. "I'd ask Alex, 'How much did we make this week?' and that's what we had to work with to buy paint and furniture and stock."

You'll find Cheese Louise at 619 The Parkway (at the theater end) in Richland. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Monday and 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Follow Felton and Eberle on Facebook: Cheese Louise.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com; more food news at www.tricityherald.com/lifestyles/food

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