Antonelli’s Cheese Shop is a slice of gourmet cheese heaven right here in Austin. The darling Hyde Park cheese shop with the most knowledgable and friendly cheesemongers around turns nine on Feb. 11, 2019.
To celebrate its birthday, Antonelli’s is giving Austinites the gift of free cheese at more restaurants than ever! Cue happy dance.
In addition to expanding its annual birthday celebration, Free Cheese Week, Antonelli’s is adding several cheese classes to the calendar. The Antonelli’s team of expert cheesemongers, even including the Antonellis from time to time, teaches these popular classes at Antonelli’s Cheese House across the street from the shop, or field trip-style.
What to Expect at Antonelli’s Cheese Events
Antonelli’s cheese classes sell out quickly and earn rave reviews. Kendall Antonelli told me some people take the fundamentals course, Cheese 101, several times. Cheese 101 introduces would-be cheese aficionados and newbies alike to the seven styles of cheese. Of course, the classes always involve a cheese tasting.
If you’ve ever had a teacher whose class you loved, it was likely because they were enthusiastic about the topic at hand. This may be one of the secrets to Antonelli’s cheese classes. John, Kendall, and their highly trained–and equally passionate–team of cheesemongers are visibly eager to share their extensive knowledge and love of cheese. Their enthusiasm can’t help but rub off on class attendees.
Besides Cheese 101, the course list includes cheesemonger favorites, date night classes, and cheese pairing classes where cheeses are matched to classics like chocolate or charcuterie. Sometimes attendees even experience unexpected, fun pairings with Waterloo sparkling water or Girl Scout cookies. Corporate and private classes are also available.
Apart from the tried and true, Antonelli’s offers tasty and new ways to get schooled on cheese. Antonelli’s recently added an all-day bus tour. On this tour, the team charters a bus for 50 people and ventures to one of the company’s farm partners. At the farm, participants play with goats, see where and how their cheese is made, enjoy a cheese and wine tasting, and then stop at a beverage partner, such as a distillery, brewery, or cidery. The tour concludes with a cheese and chocolate pairing at Antonelli’s Cheese House, and an additional tasting in the cheese shop.
Antonelli’s is launching Cheese-y Sunset Cruises on Ladybird Lake with Capital Cruises. These sunset cruises start with a cocktail hour, followed by a cheese and wine tasting. Look on the events page for details on upcoming classes and events.
What to Expect From Antonelli’s in 2019
Kendall and John Antonelli exude gratitude for nine years of fulfilling their dream, and living out their passion in Austin. Theirs is a classic tale of bold, young entrepreneurs leaving their jobs to launch a quirky business they love in a city they love.
But despite the near cultish adoration Antonelli’s inspires in cheese lovers across Austin and the country (Travel + Leisure named it one of the Best Cheese Shops in America in 2014), it hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies.
Antonelli’s recently closed its newest shop at Fareground urban food court, a tough blow to their hearts and bottom line. As painful as it was to make the decision, the Antonellis realized they needed to make a change. They reevaluated and realized their original cheese shop, tastings, events, and classes were what people gravitated toward.
“John and I have never wanted to grow for growth’s sake,” Kendall Antonelli told me. “If our goal is to sell more Texas cheese, and get [our people] better livelihoods and be more sustainable, then we have to sell more cheese.”
Antonelli’s tries to take good care of its employees and pay as high of wages as possible, a challenge for any business. However, the Antonellis feel strongly this is the right way to run a business. It is their way of living out their mission: “Do good. Eat Good.”
The Austin entrepreneurs also believe in supporting the wider community. This community encompasses the company’s Hyde Park neighborhood, the national and global artisanal food community of good food makers, and the American artisanal cheese industry. John Antonelli has served as a volunteer for American Cheese Society for the nine years he and Kendall have been in business.
From day one, the Antonellis have dedicated themselves to providing a stellar, one-of-a-kind experience to Austin, providing the highest quality cheese from responsible artisanal producers on farms around the world (including Texas). Since opening, the Antonellis have had two children who travel to the farms with them, and are destined to become cheese experts themselves.
Antonelli’s also has a cheese club, with three-, six-, and 12-month options. The shop sells more than cheese, too. Expect a variety of goods that go with cheese: wine, chocolate, charcuterie, and kitchen goods. The cheese trays are glorious works of art, including ingredients for the perfect picnic, party, meeting, or date night.
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On the day I stopped by the cheese shop, the cheesemongers were delighted to offer taste upon taste of creamy, cheesy goodness. This isn’t a treat reserved for food bloggers, though. Antonelli’s operates under a “taste before you buy” policy. Indeed, another customer there was tasting her way through the cheese case in preparation for hosting a party. A fabulous party, I surmise.
Tell Your Friends! Tell Your Family! Tell Everybody!
When I noted that Antonelli’s was practically a household name in Austin, Kendall Antonelli corrected me. While the business works with many Austin, San Antonio, and Hill Country restaurants, she pointed out that the foodie community is more aware of the brand than the average person.
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In fact, she noted that Austin’s traffic creates a challenge to increasing foot traffic to the shop. Like all small, local business owners, staying in business and thriving can be touch and go. This is why it’s so important to shop at and support local business.
Family-run businesses like Antonelli’s are at the heart of the proverbial “weird” vibe Austin promotes, and may be in danger of losing. At The Austinot, we love Antonelli’s and other local companies who put great care into quality and sustainability, support their employees, and give back to the community through philanthropic efforts.
Speaking of giving back to the community, let’s talk about FREE CHEESE WEEK.
Free Cheese Week 2019 Schedule
This week, from Monday through Friday, Antonelli’s is giving away free cheese plates at the following restaurants (one per table). While the cheese plates are free, please be mindful of the businesses and servers. Go ahead and purchase dinner, drinks, or dessert with your cheese plate, and don’t forget to tip. It’d be a lot cooler if you did.
- Monday, Feb. 4: Revue at The Fairmont, Chez Zee American Bistro, School House Pub, Central Standard
- Tuesday, Feb. 5: Winebelly, Black Star Co-op, La Volpe, Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar
- Wednesday, Feb. 6: Lenoir, Bufalina Due, Max’s Wine Dive, Tiny Boxwoods
- Thursday, Feb. 7: drink.well., District, The ABGB, Easy Tiger on 6th
- Friday, Feb. 8: Hillside Farmacy, Trace, Austin Winery, 24 Diner
Like most small, local businesses I write about, digging deeper into their origins and practices only makes me love them more. I enjoyed Antonelli’s Cheese Shop before, but now I have a profound respect and warm affection for it, too.
If you visit the flagship store, attend a class in the 110-year-old cheese house, or take one of the bus tours or cruises, I am confident you will, too.
4220 Duval St. – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Where do you get your Antonelli’s cheese fix in Austin?
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