Who: Eric Paul and family, and Joanne and Dan Tilley
Project: The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm are opening an eclectic food and farm store that will house a full service, cut-to-order European style cheese shop that focuses on farmhouse and artisan cheeses from the Northeast, greater US, and abroad. Tilldale Farm will sell grass-fed, certified organic, heritage breed beef, pork and eggs. The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm will invite other farmers market vendors to sell at "market days" in the space.
A short bio
This is a collaborative business between The Cheese Traveler, Tilldale Farm, and numerous local farms and artisan producers/purveyors.
The Cheese Traveler is Eric Paul and his family. Eric founded The Cheese Traveler in 2011 to sell farmhouse and artisan cheeses at Capital District farmers' markets. He has over 8 years of management experience in specialty foods and food co-ops. He founded the Cheese and Specialty Foods Dept. at Honest Food Co-op, in 1999, increasing department sales by 180% and product selection by approximately 200% and was General Manager of the Troy Community Food Co-op from 2008-2010 where he led them through development and into construction. Eric earned his degree in Classical Studies from Bard College in 2008. In 2010, Eric worked at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA, a cut-to-order cheese and charcuterie counter. Eric has led cheese classes, hosted private cheese parties, and organized and emceed guided wine and cheese tasting fundraisers. Eric has maintained an extensive knowledge of farmhouse and artisan cheese and food products.
Tilldale Farm, owned and operated by Joanne and Dan Tilley of Tilldale Farm, in Hoosick, NY. The Tilley Family has farmed their 300 acres farm since 1938. Until 2005 Tilldale Farm was a dairy farm. Over the last seven years, Tilldale Farm has been raising certified organic, heritage breed beef, pork, and chicken, which are known for their tenderness and propensity toward fattening on grass.
The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm were led to this project at the end of the Delmar Farmers' Market season where they both were vendors. Both were looking for additional markets to sell their products. The Cheese Traveler wanted to expand to set up a European style cheese shop, so it could sell more local artisan cheese and expand to sell domestic and imported farmhouse and artisan cheeses, charcuterie, and artisan accompaniments. Tilldale Farm needed additional markets to sell their beef, pork and eggs because of their burgeoning herd. They were also thinking about their farmer's market peers who needed a market to sell their products because the season had just ended. They found retail space available at 540 Delaware Avenue next to a perfect complimentary business - All Good Bakers, a locally owned and operated farm to table bakery. We signed a lease at the end of April and plan to open as soon as possible.
A description of your proposed project
What is it you want to do?
The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm are opening an eclectic food and farm store that will house a full service, cut-to-order European style cheese shop that focuses on farmhouse and artisan cheeses from the Northeast, greater US, and abroad. Tilldale Farm will sell grass-fed, certified organic, heritage breed beef, pork and eggs. Projected hours for the store will be 10 AM to 7 PM Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6PM. The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm will invite other farmers market vendors to sell at "market days" in the space. "Market Days": There is interest from a growing list of vendors - fin, Our Daily Eats, Cascade Mtn. Winery, Frantzen's Scenic Acres, Saratoga Apple, and Farmer John Produce. Projected Market Days will be Friday from 4-7 and Sunday from 2-5.
In addition to cheese, The Cheese Traveler will sell charcuterie - a full selection of cured meats and terrines of pâté - cheese and charcuterie plates for consumption in the store and for parties, and artisan specialty foods that accompany or complement cheese or have a similarly high quality and craft: olives, cornichons, antipasta ingredients, mustards, pickled foods, jams, honeys, chutneys, mostardas, olive oils, nut oils, vinegars, grains, pastas, canned and salt cured fish, legumes, spices, etc; and artisan chocolate.
Why do you want to do it?
The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm want to open this cheese shop and specialty market because there is no European style, cut-to-order cheese shop in the Capital District and there is limited access to high quality organic meats and fresh food in the Delaware Neighborhood, south Albany, and Delmar. The "farm market days" model will support local farmers and other small businesses that need a low-overhead venue to sell their product.
The Cheese Traveler is dedicated to the education, service, and cut-to-order selling that make a "world class" cheese shop. It will sell the many local farmhouse/artisan cheeses yet unavailable in the Capital Region; high quality, great tasting, farmhouse and artisan cheeses from the greater US and Europe; and an extensive selection of artisan charcuterie, a classic accompaniment to cheese. The closest dedicated cheese shops are in Kingston, New Paltz, Great Barrington, MA, and Northampton, MA. The Cheese Traveler wants to bring the old-world tradition to Albany.
But Why Cheese and High Quality Meat?
Cheese is the largest category in specialty foods and meat is fourth largest category.1 The bottom line - people love cheese and there is an opportunity gap in the Capital Region market that Eric Paul's knowledge of the artisan cheese industry and prior success at the Delmar Farmers' Market can meet resulting in good food and more support for local and U.S. and European artisan producers. Since meat is the fourth largest category in specialty foods, Tilldale Farm will be able to supply local high quality, certified organic meat which consumers have limited access to.
And Why the overall food market?
The cheese/specialty food shop and farmers market will create daily access to artisan products, organic meat, and access to local farm products. The only farmers market in Albany are the Empire State Plaza, CDPHP, Delaware Ave, and the new one in south Albany. The shop is all about small family run "good food" operations supporting each other to make something great for Albany. Located next to All Good Bakers, The Cheese Traveler cheese, specialty, food and farm market makes 540 Delawaer a local and artisan foods destination.
So Why Fund it?
AOA Sunmark should fund this project because we are a collaberative, "good food artisan" business. To us, we are what small micro-business economic development is all about - family businesses supporting family businesses: bringing people healthy, artisan crafted foods that are aware of their cultural history, and have a low impact on the environment.
How this funding would help
The $1,500 AOA Sunmark Startup Grant start-up grant would provide The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm the capital it needs to move forward in its renovations - plumbing, flooring, interior finishes - and purchase of equipment. This is the next critical step for The Cheese Traveler and Tilldale Farm to move forward.