Michala Kennedy and Nathan Sausaida-Halliday want to talk to you about cheese.
The couple, who opened La Finca Bowls focused on local and organic ingredients in 2020, opened their newest venture, The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop, last month. The East Downtown location at 300 Broadway NE is adjacent to the gluten-free and vegan restaurant La Finca Bowls.
“We don’t have a problem saying we’re not cheese experts. We just enjoy cheese. We love learning about cheese,” Kennedy said. “And…the team we hired to come with us, they’re not cheese experts either, they just love cheese They want to know more about it and are eager to know more about it.”
Kennedy and Sauceda-Halliday met when they were both working at the Santa Monica Shutters-on-the-Beach Hotel, Kennedy as a hostess and Sauceda-Halliday as a waiter. When living in Los Angeles, the couple would often walk to a nearby cheese shop which was partly the inspiration for Mouse Hole.
“We’d go out there and try different cheeses all the time,” Kennedy said. “One of the ways we really connected was just eating a bunch of really tasty foods.”
The couple wanted to provide easy access from this cheese shop to their area.
“You’d walk in there and they’d just talk,” Sousaida Hallyday said. “I’d ask a million questions about all kinds of cheese and they’d give you tastes and take you through it.”
There are more than 40 types of cheese behind glass at The Mouse Hole, sourced from around the world. The menu features three regional cheese boards: a Spanish board, a French board, and a local board. The cheese is paired with fruits, vegetables, and other snacks that are local to the regions where the cheese was produced.
Sauceda-Halliday said the staff is just as enthusiastic about talking about cheese as the owners, and answering any questions customers have.
“It’s a great cheese shop, but we want it to be friendly,” said Sousaida Hallyday.
The couple has been expanding the menu of ready-made cheese and snacks over the past few weeks.
“People weren’t really coming here and running,” Sousaida Hallyday said. “We had two Saturdays, two people alone: one plate, a couple glasses of wine, three hours talking, hanging out, which was great. It’s so cool to see someone enjoying a space for so long.”
Although much of the cheese is imported, Kennedy and Sauceda-Halliday make an effort to sell New Mexico-produced products in the store, including pickles, wine, mustard, and 505 Resin Works cheese boards.
“We know how much it affects our society,” Kennedy said.
The local approach can be seen even on the walls. A mural of a golden mouse by Angelia Santistefan, whom the couple met via La Finca Bowls, peers through the passage separating the cheese shop from the dining area. The stools and glassware in the cheese shop’s small dining room are sourced from local antique stores, including two 1920s-era parlor chairs and an assortment of different china and wine glasses. Artwork and photographs by Mouse Hole employees also line the walls.
“You can definitely go to Whole Foods or Smith’s, or whatever, and get some really good cheeses,” Kennedy said. “I think we’re just creating a more intimate shopping experience.”
The Mouse Hole is open from 12-8pm Wednesday through Saturday.
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