Beecher's opens factory in New York City

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, owned by Islander Kurt Dammeier, will be opening a new factory in New York City. As of next February, Manhattanites will have the chance to taste Seattle's most famous artisan cheese.

The factory, which, like its flagship in Pike Place Market will be visible to the public through glass partitions, is set to open in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. The space will be nearly twice that of Beecher's Seattle location, spanning a total of 8,000 square feet. The building will include a retail store/tasting room, a below-ground wine bar, and a cheese cave for aging cheeses.

According to Dammeier, the decision to open a new factory in New York was one of timing and demand.

"I've been thinking about it for two or three years now. The world is not going to end economically, which is nice to know. I wasn't convinced a while back," he said, adding that Beecher's Seattle factory has reached "full capacity" — another reason to open a second shop. "We can't make any more cheese. So we have to open someplace.

Manhattan, with its cosmopolitan vibe, seemed like the perfect location. New York has the ultimate street crowd," Dammeier said.

The Manhattan factory will make most of the two dozen cheeses it produces in Seattle along with a "special New York cheese," which is currently top secret, according to Dammeier. Several of Beecher's cheeses are currently sold in New York artisan delis and grocery stores, and occasionally featured on restaurant menus.

The flagship Beecher's factory opened up in Pike Place Market in 2003. The cheese is featured throughout the menu at Dammeier's Mercer Island restaurant, Bennett's Pure Food Bistro, along with other Seattle-area restaurants.

Most sales, however, are through grocery and specialty markets.

Beecher's cheese can be found in about 35 states and several foreign countries. Approximately 70 percent of its sales are local.

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