It could be a bleak summer for the Old Ottawa South gourmet. Grace in the Kitchen and Serious Cheese will move out of the neighbourhood when their lease expires at the end of June.
It will be harder to find cheeses like Morbier, a semi-soft variety that tastes like nuts and fruit.
It could also be more difficult to get just the right cheese grater or espresso machine without the kitchenware store.
Grace has been around since 2003, with the cheese shop following in 2009.
The two businesses, which share owners, will be moving to Ottawa’s west end, according to Grace in the Kitchen’s website. When they finalize the new location, they’ll announce it on Twitter first (@seriousfromage).
Serious Cheese co-owner Jamie Nadon said he and the other co-owners want to increase floorspace in order to offer more selection. Now, they’re “bursting at the seams.”
He said they want to thank Old Ottawa South for great support over the years. “This is the house where we grew up and we’ll always miss it,” he said.
The new place will combine both stores in one. Serious Cheese will become a kind of island in the middle of a larger Grace in the Kitchen. In a way, that’s how it started out: as a little cheese fridge inside the kitchen appliance store.
The cheese shop also serves meals, and some customers having a cheesy lunch on a rainy Wednesday afternoon were not happy to hear about the upcoming move.
“I am appalled, absolutely appalled,” said Mike Taylor, jokingly, but serious about his disappointment. “I come here so often. How can they do this to me? I resent it.”
Claire Hunter has been another regular customer. “If they’re moving closer to Sunnyside, then that’s good, but if they’re moving further away, then I probably won’t be as happy. But I’ll probably still come,” she said.
Neighbouring business-owner Jerome Scullino of Jerome photography said that losing both stores at once could be hard for the community’s economy. “I hope they get filled soon with exciting businesses,” he wrote in an email.
Nadon’s favourite memory from his two years selling cheese in Old Ottawa South is of an enormous, mysterious gift.
One morning, he arrived with his colleagues at the shop to find a crate the size of a child’s bicycle, covered in Dutch writing. They cracked it open and found a purple, porcelain cow with the Beemster label printed on it inside. There was nothing else in the package – no letter of explanation.
Beemster is a cheese producer and Nadon had been a good customer.
“It’s the Dutch way of saying thank you. They send you a cow,” he joked. Nadon has a finely trimmed beard and a gruff sense of humour.
They nicknamed the cow Elsie and put her on display in the store. Nadon is serious about the joy she’s brought kids, who have sometimes gotten to ride her. “If anything, I think Elsie would say goodbye to the neighbourhood, more than anybody else,” he said.
Nadon will also fondly remember the Hopewell public school kids who fill the store 20 at a time during their lunch hour. They’ve never caused a problem.
He hopes Old Ottawa South residents will make the trek out to the West end from time to time. To get that fruity, nutty, Morbier cheese, they might just have to.