The last week has been a rough one for many New Yorkers and residents of the East Coast, and the NYC cheese world is no exception. A significant percentage of the cheese-related businesses in the city are in the Dark Zone, the area below 39th St that has now been without power for most of the week post-Sandy, and some were located in or very near the Zone A flood zones that saw the worst of the storm.
Today, while riding around Manhattan on my bike (my day job, located near Astor Place, has been closed as well due to the power outage), I stopped by multiple cheesemongers to see if they were open. As the pictures above show, the story was mostly one of shuttered gates and darkened windows, cheese which had to be emergency-transported to alternate locations or stock spoiled and thrown away. From Saxelby Cheesemongers to Bedford Cheese Shop, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to Artisanal to Lucy’s Whey, the business of cheese, as with many other businesses, is on hold until the lights come back on. Some, like Saxelby’s, took a double hit, as their Essex St location and their Red Hook aging and storage facility were both within affected areas. Beecher’s had to empty their caves and move the stock to Brooklyn, where Food Matters Again stepped up and provided them with space to store their goods. Artisanal, Bedford, and Lucy”s Whey presumably had to move their stock in a hurry as well.
Only one location, Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker St, was open for business! Unfortunately, you probably won’t be won’t be able to get your cheese fix, as they only had a few chunks of Montenebro and Parmagiano available for sale. The entire contents of their caves had to be emptied out and transported to Long Island City; fortunately the cave saw minimal flooding so they should be back in business as soon as they have electricity. Despite the lack of cheese, they had many other provisions for sale, including some charcuterie, an excellent selection of beers, dips, condiments, breads, chocolates, and much more, so swing by and show them some love! They’ll be open until 5pm each day, which is roughly how long the day will light their work.
Here’s hoping the power comes back soon, so all of the city’s cheesemongers can reopen their counters and get back to caring for the cheeses in their caves. This is probably not how they were hoping to end American Cheese Month, needless to say, and they will all take a financial hit, so be sure to get out there and support them when they do finally get back. Rumor has it the power could be back Friday or Saturday.
In the end, though, the loss of cheese is minor compared to the ways Sandy has impacted, and will continue to impact, millions who live in the affected areas. There are many ways to help out, and seemingly hundreds of organizations accepting donations and volunteers, and it can be hard to know what’s legit and what’s a scam. Gothamist.com has a list of NYC-area organizations that’s a good start, and a quick google will direct you to similar lists for New Jersey and the other states and areas in need of assistance.
we are troopers! thanks for stopping by and visiting our friends in cheese to see how everyone is holding up. we hope to be back to normal soon. open 10am-5pm again today on bleecker, regular hours (till 9pm) in grand central where there is power!