Cheese Bar will be closing after New Year's. While there are other mongers around town, the announcement feels as if it's the last call for cheese in Portland.
The shop on Southeast Belmont Street will continue to keep your holidays well-stocked with everything from cloth-bound goat cheddar to raw cow's milk blue, but a going-out-of-business sale is set to begin Jan. 11, as reported by The New School beer website. The inventory clearance, which will apply to all remaining cheese, cured meats, beer, wine and dry goods, is scheduled to wrap up Jan. 24.
News that Cheese Bar is shutting down comes as a particularly hard blow even as restaurants and taverns across the city fold due to the pandemic. And that's because it was more than just a market where you could buy cheese. The store has been founder Steve Jones' passion project, and the care that went into sourcing cut-to-order cheeses and beverages to pair is virtually unmatched in Portland.
Jones, who not only won the second Cheesemonger Invitational in New York City but also helped launch local cheese-focused events, including the Wedge and the Portland Beer and Cheese Festival, opened the business in 2010. That followed four years of operating Steve's Cheese, a small retail counter in Square Deal Wine, which quickly established a following.
Those ventures spun off other establishments, including a cheese window at the now-shuttered Commons Brewery and Chizu, the closet-sized eatery that served its wedges sushi-style around a bar decorated with origami boxes and paper cranes. The latter downtown location ended its service in 2019 to make way for a gourmet s'mores shop.
Jones didn't cite COVID-19 as a reason for the closure, instead saying he was "moving onto other opportunities." We can only hope they will still involve cheese.