Get all the delicious details about a new artisanal cheese company that pairs locally-sourced cheeses, fine wines, and lots of fun in an urban oasis.
Cincy Chic: Tell us more about Urban Stead Cheese!
Andrea Robbins, Owner of Urban Stead Cheese: Urban Stead Cheese is Cincinnati’s first urban artisanal cheese company; we opened our doors on February 23, 2018. We make a variety of cheeses using local jersey milk that we pick up each week from Bohls Jerseys, located in Mowrystown, Ohio. We also age all of our cheese on-site, and have viewing windows into both the production room as well as the aging rooms. We have a Tasting Room where we serve a variety of cheese-related menu items as well as a full selection of beer, wine and cocktails. Urban Stead Cheese also retails all of its cheese and other locally-sourced products, in addition to beer and wine, from the Tasting Room.
Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
Robbins: Scott and I have a passion for travel, for food (especially locally-sourced food), entertaining and of course for cheese. We visited a handful of cheesemakers in our travels, and really fell in love with the idea that we could bring the typical farmstead cheesemaking to the city. It’s also important to note that both of our grandparents were dairy farmers; we’re really thrilled to have the opportunity to honor our family heritage.
Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
Robbins: Scott and Andrea Robbins are the husband and wife team behind Urban Stead Cheese. Scott is the Cheesemaker, while Andrea runs the operations of the business; both of them can frequently be found in the Tasting Room working behind the bar and chatting about all things cheese! Scott has been in the food and wine business for nearly 30 years; he is a Certified Sommelier and has spent the last four years studying cheesemaking and leading the conversion of the building into the cheesemaking facility. Andrea has an Accounting Degree and an MBA from the University of Dayton and worked in the accounting industry for nearly 15 years prior to joining Urban Stead Cheese full time in December 2017. She now oversees the operations of the business as well as community outreach. Where are you located? Urban Stead Cheese is located at 3036 Woodburn Avenue, which is in the East Walnut Hills/Evanston neighborhood. The owners revitalized the former East Walnut Hills Medical Clinic, which sat vacant for nearly 10 years prior to their purchase of the building in 2016.
Cincy Chic: What products do you offer in store?
Robbins: We offer a full selection of our cheeses in the Tasting Room; we make beautiful cheese boards that feature a selection of our house-made cheeses. We currently have a bandaged cheddar (Street Ched), an aged gouda, our Alpine-style Tomme, fresh cheddar curds, quark (a German farm-style soft cheese) and our Misty River Camembert. We also have several soft spreadable cheeses that we make using our quark; these include our Ohio Valley Pimento, Beer Cheese and a Sun-Dried Tomato Basil spread. We also work with our baker, Natalie Butcher of Hungry Noodle, to serve a traditional Quark Kasekuchen as well a Quark Cake that is topped with local fruit and honey. We’re really excited to be working with several great local producers that make their products in either the Findlay Market Incubator Kitchen or the Newport Incubator Kitchen. We serve Tuba Baking Co.’s soft pretzels alongside our beer cheese; these pretzels are really amazing and showcase a traditional German Swabian-style pretzel. Queen City Shrub fruit mixers are the foundation of our cocktail program; we also sell shrubs for retail from our shop. We source our bread from Allez Bakery on Main Street; Tom McKenna – the owner and baker at Allez – has been a fantastic partner for us.
Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon?
Robbins: Our newest item is our beautiful selection of catering cheese boards; customers can call the shop and we can help you customize a cheese board for your party. We also offer a variety of gift baskets, in addition to gift cards. Keep your eyes open for a fun holiday gift baskets that feature some a variety of local cheeses. We’ll also be debuting a reserve wine list this week; Scott’s picked some really fun wines that can be enjoyed in the Tasting Room, but can also purchased for retail. We’re always working to evolve; our goal is to get better every day. We’re thrilled with the cheese that we’re making; we’ve found a wonderful partner in our milk supplier and its enabling us to make really good cheese. As we’ve just passed our six month mark, we’re going to start seeing these cheeses come into their own as they get a little age on them; we’re super excited to see these cheeses develop their own unique personalities. We also continue to expand our partnerships with local restaurants; currently, our cheese is served at Bauer Farm Kitchen, Metropole, Nine Giant Brewing and can often be found at Madison’s at Findlay Market; we’re in discussion with quite a few other restaurants to offer our products in their establishments. We’re also working on several publicity pieces that should be in print by the end of the year.
Cincy Chic: What makes Urban Stead Cheese unique?
Robbins: We have “Cheddar for the Better” painted in huge letters behind our bar in the Tasting Room. Cheddar for the Better is of course about making world-class cheddar, as well as other cheeses; however, it’s about so much more than making good cheese. It’s our litmus test for the decisions we make in this business. We feel very strongly about making an investment and a positive impact in the City of Cincinnati and in the Evanston and East Walnut Hills neighborhoods. From the get-go, we knew we wanted to use a vacant building and we wanted to be in the city limits; we want to be a part of the neighborhood momentum that is going on across the city, and we want to bring better cheese to the people of Cincinnati while doing so. We make every effort possible to minimize our footprint during the process. One of the by-products of cheesemaking is whey; most of us know whey as a powder product that we put in our smoothies, but we produce about 500-600 gallons of liquid whey each week when we make cheese. We work with the Shinkle family, who owns TS Farms, to give them our whey; it’s a positive both for us and for them. Tiffany Shinkle comes into farmers markets several days a week; she brings totes and picks up our whey and takes it back to her farm to supplement the feed for her pigs, cows, sheep and goats. This partnership is something you often see in the farmstead cheesemaking world, and it was important to us to continue the completion of this circle in our urban cheesemaking venture. We’re always looking for opportunities to create meaningful partnerships and relationships.
Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
Robbins: Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and for new product offerings. You can also find more details on our website at www.urbansteadcheese.com, where we have links to all of the great publicity we’ve received. Edible Ohio Valley recently wrote a beautiful piece that really tells the full story of Urban Stead Cheese; the Fall 2018 edition is available on newsstands and in local shops starting this week.