The corner of Southeast 7th and Main is now ground-zero for Portland's first urban cheesemaking facility in decades.
Ancient Heritage Dairy, known for award-winning sheep's milk cheeses, has completed its move from Madras to the Central Eastside Industrial District, taking over the corner of the large building that will house Renata restaurant this spring. Both the restaurant and the cheesemaker are beneficiaries of investment capital from Tony Arnerich, hence the shared space.
With the move, owner-cheesemakers Paul Obringer and his son, Hank, have essentially bet the farm, hoping the urban location makes it more cost-effective to ramp up production and distribute their cheeses to a wider, out-of-state market. It also solidifies the neighborhood as a hotbed of artisan food and drink producers that includes Jacobsen Salt, Olympic Provisions, Woodblock Chocolate, Clay Pigeon and Cooper's Hall urban wineries, several coffee roasters including Coava and Water Avenue (plus upcoming Cup and Bar), the spirits producers clustered around Distillery Row, and a healthy handful of breweries, including The Commons, opening this spring.
The temperature- and humidity-controlled cheese "caves" are already stacked with aging wheels of Hannah and Adelle. The gleaming, stainless steel milk tank and cheesemaking vat are ready and waiting to get to work on the first batch of cheese.
Visitors can watch the cheese making in action from large street-side windows, and will be able to purchase cheese on site in spring, when construction on the adjoining retail shop is complete. In fact, the shop, with its view into one of the three cheese caves, will double as the restaurant's private event space.
As for the restaurant, construction is underway and co-owner Sandra Arnerich says the projected opening is April or May.
Ancient Heritage Dairy: 626 SE Main St., Portland