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Rachel's Bread owner moving ahead with plans to open cheese shop

Next time you walk into Rachel’s Bread at the farmers market in downtown Goshen, look for a “Fromagerie Rachel.”

It’s taken a year of planning, but Rachel Shenk, owner Rachel’s Bread, will go ahead with her plan to open a cheese shop in town.

Shenk opened her European-style bakery at 212 W. Washington St., about 20 years ago and throughout that time, she’s had several cheese sales in the bakery.

Those experiences selling cheese from time to time as well as her childhood in Europe, where cheese stands in markets were commonplace, gave her the idea to start her own cheese shop in Goshen.

“I travel back to France fairly regularly and so whenever I see the cheese shops in the markets there, I’m like, ‘Oh, we need a place like this,’” she said.

Shenk originally planned to open her shop next door, in the building that houses Sweet Water Interiors. But because of issues with getting water to that space, she decided to instead have a booth in the Goshen Farmers Market directly behind the bakery.

Right now, she is working on the plumbing, but plans on opening the shop four or five weeks from now, she said. Shenk said she has already spoken with the health department and other authorities involved in the opening of food-related businesses, as well.

The plan is to carry imported cheeses from Europe and artisan cheeses from within a four- to five-state area, like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.

“I’m mostly looking at European-style cheeses,” she said. “I want to focus on the ones that are made by small companies, and with a thought for the environment. There are some very good cheese makers around that use milk from grass-fed cows, and they’re not giving them any antibiotics.”

Shenk said she hopes to have 10 to 15 cheeses at any given time and have a special offer on a specific cheese every other week.

She has also talked to local businesses and restaurants about selling them larger quantities of cheese for their kitchens. And looking down the road, Shenk said she also wants to sell other specialty foods, like olives.

Shenk said she also wants her business to be educational.

“A want it to be a relationship-oriented cheese shop where people come and say, ‘This is what I’m having, what would taste good with this?’ and they can get as much or as little as they want,” she said.

Shenk said she wants customers to have the flexibility to order however much cheese and as much variety as they want, which is often not possible in grocery stores where cheese comes pre-packaged.

And while Whole Foods Market in Mishawaka has a cheese section that allows that kind of flexibility, it’s a 45-minute drive to get there for Goshenites, she points out.

Shenk said the development of the Hawks Building, and the upcoming opening of Goshen Brewing Company along the Millrace were also part of what got her thinking that Goshen was ready to have a business like her cheese shop. 

“People are talking about what this town has become and is becoming, and I think a cheese shop fits into that whole frame of mind, bringing more individualized attention to food,” she said.

Customers will be able to visit the shop through the farmers market when it’s open (8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays year-round, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays May through Oct.) or through Rachel’s Bread any other day — just ask for access to the cheese shop.

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