The novel coronavirus has claimed another victim: Faribault’s iconic The Cheese Cave.
The shop/eatery on downtown’s Central Avenue is the retail outlet for The Caves of Faribault and Swiss Valley Farms.
The shop made the announcement Friday morning on Facebook, posting a sad announcement that its doors will permanently close May 16.
“We have thought long and hard about this and did not make the decision lightly. We were already walking a fine line prior to COVID-19, and given that no one knows how long the impacts of this pandemic will last or what the normal will be, we do not see a viable path forward.”
The Cheese Cave, primarily a cheese shop, it included a small full-service menu, local wines and Minnesota craft beers, moved to downtown Faribault in 2009. Prior to that, a cheese shop was located near the factory for a number of years.
According to Nort Johnson, president of the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, the closure will only impact the retail location and not the historic Caves of Faribault.
“The Caves product is still very strong and they will continue to be a strong asset in the economy and the community of Faribault,” he said. “The retail store has been a very nice asset for us to have in the downtown area because of the hallmark products they carried in a boutique style way, but not being the core business of the organizations it unfortunately did not make it through the pandemic.”
Johnson said that his family is among those mourning the loss of the store, adding that the community will hopefully be able to take comfort in knowing that the products will still be available at local grocery stores.
Within hours of the announcement, the Facebook post solicited 400 reactions, 260 shares, and 150 comments as community members expressed their heartbreak over the closure and shared memories of times spent at the eatery.
“I attended their amazing grand opening party on June 12, 2009 and was a very frequent visitor over the years,” said Deni Buendorf. “I loved bringing out-of-town friends there for dinner and when Jacob would make my favorite smoked mushroom soup. And the fresh curds! This news is absolutely devastating.”
Other community members mourned the direct loss that the closing of The Cheese Cave would have on Faribault’s downtown.
“So sad for Faribault, for all who loved and appreciated the uniqueness of this business that served such wonderful historic cheeses, made right here in Faribault,” said Kathleen Bauer Cap. “The building is historic and as you pass through the door, step over the same stoop our ancestors stepped (did), it lets you walk somewhat into the past, the ambience inside that housed so many other businesses of the past, finally the delicious taste of the cheese and other interesting foods served by people who cared you chose this spot to dine.”
Johnson also shared in the heartache for a loss in the downtown district, but said that he is confident that the beautiful space will be filled quickly.
“As we emerge from the pandemic and retail begins to have a little better outlook, the creativity of our entrepreneurs will hopefully fill that space and some of the others with new community assets,” Johnson said. “We will miss having The Cheese Cave downtown, but we’re also certainly happy that the organization as a whole will continue to make and age cheese right here in Faribault.”
A representative from Swiss Valley Farms confirmed that the retail location is the only operation closing Friday afternoon, but declined further comment.