LOGAN SQUARE — An artisan cheese shop that will double as a dine-in spot is coming to Logan Square.
Randall Felts, former operations manager at Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, is opening his first brick-and-mortar, called Beautiful Rind, on the ground floor of the “L” luxury apartment building at 2211 N. Milwaukee Ave. Felts is aiming for an early 2020 opening. Eater was first to report on the opening.
At Beautiful Rind, folks will be able to buy artisan cheese, as well as other items you’d find on a cheese plate like jams and honeys, to make a cheese plate at home. They’ll also be able to order a cheese plate or a cheese-centric dish, like mac and cheese or a cheeseburger, and dine in with a glass of wine or a beer.
“I want it to be a place where people who love cheese can go, nerd out, meet producers and learn more about cheese — to do for cheese what some breweries and coffee roasters have done for their industries, to have a spot where you can go after work and relax and enjoy something you really love,” Felts said.
Felts moved to Chicago two years ago by way of Birmingham, Ala. Before Pastoral, Felts worked for Whole Foods, where he traveled to stores across the south building their cheese departments.
The 38-year-old said he’s always been drawn to quality cheese with a story behind it — and that’s exactly what he plans to serve at the Logan Square shop.
“I [was] the ultimate liberal arts, can’t make up my mind college student. Cheese really appealed to that. It’s economics, it’s history, it’s poetry. It’s so many things wrapped up in one food,” he said.
Felts is planning to source cheese from all over but focus on Midwest producers. Cheese will start in the $8-10 per lb. range. As soon as patrons walk through the door they’ll be greeted by a cheesemonger handing out samples and taking questions.
It’s important, Felts said, that patrons feel comfortable at Beautiful Rind because artisan cheese shops have a reputation for being inaccessible.
“It’s such a tragedy when people come up to the counter and are afraid,” Felts said. “Everyone knows cheese, but a cheese counter can be very intimidating — even to me at times.”
Also in an effort to combat inaccessibility, Felts is planning to host classes at the shop so people can learn more about cheese from experts and the producers themselves.
The classes will be held in a private room to the right of where you walk in. Felts envisions three to four classes a month, but the details are still being worked out.
Felts is planning to open up the space to neighbors for community meetings and other events.
Felts said he was drawn to Logan Square for its vibrant restaurant scene. He pointed to spots like Revolution Brewing, Bang Bang Pie and Emporium arcade bar as “the types of businesses I want to have around me.”
Another reason? “People there are engaged in food, but [don’t] have a cheese shop in their neighborhood,” he said.
But Felts said he wants Beautiful Rind to be a cheese shop “for everybody” — not just for foodies.
“I’m a coal miner’s son who grew up in West Virginia and my wife is an immigrant. …We want people there who are like us and people like our family,” he said.
“Cheese started as something farmers [made] for themselves and it should continue to be a food that’s accessible to everyone.”
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