When customers walk into Orrman’s Cheese in North Raleigh, owner Rachel Klebaur is at their service, available to tell them anything they’d ever want to know about cheese.
Those with less-developed palates might want a soft brie. Adventurous customers can survey the shop’s selection of pungent cheeses, like Gorgonzola or Muenster. And for those who are somewhere in between, there’s always cheddar or Gouda.
If they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for, Klebaur helps them pick out the perfect option, whether they’re hosting a cocktail party or trying out a new recipe.
She will even lay out a cheese plate for customers at the register before bagging up the goods. That way, they can replicate the look later.
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Klebaur, 41, has owned Orrman’s Cheese in Charlotte since 2012. This month, she opened a North Raleigh location in the Lafayette Village shopping center.
The space is the former site of Six Forks Cheese. Klebaur bought out the business, including its inventory of European cheeses. As Ormann’s, it will specialize in local cheese.
Klebaur said it’s important that her customers feel like they know something about the cheese they buy.
“We’re trying to make connections with the people and where the food comes from,” she said. “Hopefully the customer is always leaving with some sort of tidbit about their cheese.”
At Orrman’s, Klebaur said it’s not unusual for an employee to spend 20 minutes with a customer.
“Besides having the customer taste the cheese – something I think is absolutely necessary – we are also interacting with the customer, telling the story of where their food comes from,” she said.
Klebaur’s love affair with cheese began in 2002, when she started culinary school in New York City. She was hoping for a cheese education, but her school didn’t offer the specialty.
So she took a job as a manager at a local cheese store where she could taste-test and meet cheese makers who could impart some of their knowledge on her.
Her family lived in North Carolina, and her older sister thought Charlotte would be a good place to live and start a business. So she found Klebaur an open vendor space at the 7th Street Public Market in Charlotte and encouraged Klebaur to apply.
Klebaur got her spot at the market in 2012, packed her bags and opened Orrman’s Cheese.
Since then, Klebaur has built a network of cheese makers in western North Carolina and hopes to do the same around Raleigh.
She already has some cheese makers she wants to involve in the new store.
“There are lots on my drive to Raleigh, and hopefully I’ll be able to meet some of those cheese makers,” Klebaur said.
But she has other work to handle in the meantime.
Once the store has completely transitioned into Orrman’s, Klebaur will start introducing other parts of the business that have made the store popular in Charlotte.
She wants to host cheese and wine and cheese and beer classes. The store already has a small menu of grilled paninis, but she also wants to offer a full grilled-cheese menu.
In 2014, the sandwich was voted best in the city by Charlotte Magazine.