Photo courtesy of Lone Grazer Creamery
I'm gutted: Kieran Folliard and Rueben Nilsson are closing Lone Grazer Creamery, our absolute sweetheart of an urban creamery which lived in the Northeast Minneapolis FOOD BUILDING. Details on their homepage, but I have no link to detail my great heartbreak. I thought Nilsson was doing brilliant work, just a month back at our Made in the North Awards I got to taste some of his newest cheese, a washed rind soft cheese that was so fresh, so soft, so funky, so leathery and tangy—it was just gorgeous, like a real Muenster, but fresher tasting.
I called up Kieran Folliard to express my great condolences, and to ask if we could somehow change things by rushing out and buying all the Lone Grazer we saw, and he said no. "The biggest challenge is the distribution, the distribution outside of Minnesota," Folliard told me. "It's a super-competitive market." Being next door to cheese super-power Wisconsin with its great cheese support probably didn't help, but Folliard told me the big issue was simple math. Lone Grazer needed to move X-thousand pounds of cheese a week to be viable, and their distributors didn't think they could get them there any faster than 18 months to two years. "Cheese is not like whiskey, you have to take the milk from the farmers whether you need it or not, and then you can't just leave it like whiskey sitting in the barrels."
Darn it. I loved that cheese. "Obviously it's been a rough couple of days," Kieran told me. "I'm very appreciative of all the work Rueben and the crew did, the commitment they showed, and the commitment from the retail partners—who knows. It's a long road with a lot of turns. Who knows what will come of it."
Let me take a moment to say on behalf of all local cheese-lovers: Thanks Rueben, thanks Kieran, thanks everyone who made Lone Grazer possible. You were doing great work, and we are grateful for all the heart, integrity, and vision you put into it all. We're a less tasty town to lose you.
Now the rest of you: Go out and scour the shelves, any Lone Grazer you see will be your last.