Ramping up to the Feb 21st closing of Steve's Cheese northwest Thurman outlet and the March opening of southeast's Cheese Bar, Food Lovers' Guide to Portland's Liz Crain talked to Steve's Cheese owner Steve Jones about cheese.
How would you describe Cheese Bar?
Cheese Bar is a cross between an old world delicatessen and a tabac.
What’s a tabac?
In France and Italy both there are these things called tabacs and they’re on almost every corner. It’s where old men come in in the morning and buy their tobacco — although we obviously won’t be selling tobacco — and then they’ll stand and have a glass of espresso and maybe a croissant. And then in the evening they’ll come back and have a glass of grappa and piece of cheese or something.
I’ve always really liked the social aspect of them. People coming in and out — and quite often they’re in and out in twenty minutes. It’s really the only fast option you have in Europe — everything else takes forever. So it’s kind of cool you can get a little bite or boost and keep on moving. That’s kind of been my intention with this. If people want to linger they can but Cheese Bar is more for when you’re on your way home and you stop and have a glass of beer and a piece of cheese, or a glass of wine and a small bite.
Differences between Steve’s Cheese and Cheese Bar?
I keep telling everyone [Cheese Bar is] everything you’ve got now [Steve's Cheese] and more. We’ll still carry everything including all the meat and cheese but you’ll also be able to have a beer while your shopping. That’s, you know, my dream moment. To get a beer and then shop for cheese. I mean, hell yeah, that’s perfect.
I think if we’ve got a really long line I’m just going to grab a pitcher of beer and just pour everyone a little glass and say, “Here, have a beer.” I used to shop at an old meat shop in St. Louis and no matter what time of day you’d walk in they’d ask — “Want a bavarian beer?” It’s 9:30 in the morning and they’d be offering you a beer?”
· Say Cheese [Food Lovers' Guide to Portland]
· Steve's Cheese Will Be Dying; Long Live Cheese Bar [EaterPDX]