Former P&G exec aims to blend corporate, agricultural experience new company, My Artisano Foods

My Artisan Foods opens Jan. 29 in Sharonville

CINCINNATI - Eduardo Rodriguez is starting My Artisano Foods LLC as a small retail shop in Sharonville. Within a few years, he hopes to build a national brand that generates more than $10 million in annual revenue.

The former Procter & Gamble Co. executive spent more than a year planning his new business, which opens Tuesday, Jan. 29 on Reading Road just south of E. Sharon Road .

Rodriguez will use recipes learned in his native Venezuela to make herb-flavored Paisano cheese, Queso de Mano, or hand-stretched cheese and pickled antipasto eggplant. He plans to sell the soft and mild Latin American cheeses to local food lovers, including some 300 potential customers whose contact information he collected at networking and social events.

"Foodies are always looking for new flavors, new ideas, new recipes. I offer all of those," Rodriguez said. "I have been working hard on this. I assessed the idea a long time to make sure I got the concept right."

That concept is "World Flavors Made Locally," a slogan developed for My Artisano Foods by Brand Shepherd, a Wyoming-based advertising agency. Its founder, Dan Crask, thinks Rodriguez will succeed because he's launching a new product into "a category where people are already shopping. I've looked for products like this at Kroger, Whole Foods. I see nothing in this category."

The founder's experience and solid business plan should help My Artisano Foods become a national brand, said Scott Stoelting, a retired Luxottica executive who volunteers as a Cincinnati consultant for the Service Corp. of Retired Executives, or SCORE. That's a national organization with 13,000 counselors, including about 90 in Cincinnati, that provide advice to small-business startups.

"I've seen so many business plans, I can almost tell by looking at them whether they're going to make it or not," Stoelting said. "It just looks to me like he has every chance."

Rodriguez, 42, spent nine years in P&G's consumer and market knowledge organization, which looks for the best ways to bring new products to target markets. His wife, Rosa Hernandez, is an R&D associate at P&G. The couple lives in Blue Ash with 8-year-old twin sons, Santiago and Sebastian. Before relocating to Cincinnati, Rodriguez managed a family business in Venezuela that produced artisan cheeses. He also managed his family's farm in Zaraza, Venezuela.

That background helped him develop several potential markets for the cheese and vegetable products he'll make in his 1,000-square-foot retail store, at 10965 Reading Road. He will sell specialty cheeses for $7 to $16 per pound to retail customers. He'll have a catering service and wholesale offerings for local restaurants. He also plans to make regular appearances at food festivals and farmers' markets. Eventually, he'll offer his cheese products to retailers regionally, then nationally.

"I want to sell to chains that focus on organic and healthy foods," he said.

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