Since Lara Mulchay's shop, Petite Fromage, "went on hiatus" in 2010, Valley cheese lovers have not so patiently waited for her return.
She's back, with a little help from a giant hotel corporation and a new concept called Craft+Culture.
Mulchay and her husband, Joel LaTondress, won a contest designed to bring an independent business to downtown. Marriott International recently launched Canvas, a program that helps startup food and beverage concepts get off the ground in different cities.
One of the first hotel locations to accept applications was the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, and Mulchay's concept won the gold.
"We have always wanted to open a brick and mortar in Phoenix, and were just waiting for the right opportunity and location," she says.
Mulchay's vision for Craft+Culture is an "eatery/cheese shop/bar with an extensive grab and go selection of sandwiches, salads, snacks, and pastries."
The shop will be located at the hotel, 50 East Adams, in a corner retail space formerly occupied by a Starbucks.
"Craft+Culture will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Saturday and Sunday brunch in the future," Mulchay says. Her ultimate goal is to bring a "proper" cheese shop experience to Phoenix.
The eatery will feature a wide selection of cheeses and meats as well as build-your-own cheese+charcuterie boards. Most of what Craft+Culture will offer will come from local growers, food producers, winemakers, and brewers, according to Mulchay. There will also be classes, seminars, and other special events on the Renaissance property.
The hotel will assist the start up with every phase of development as well as provide six months of free rent during operation. There were more than 134 submissions for the Phoenix Canvas project, according to Mulchay.
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"We know there is a vast wealth of culinary talent in Phoenix, and we are both humbled and grateful for the opportunity," she says.
We'll keep you posted when we have a firm opening date.