Urban Stead Cheese to bring farm-fresh dairy products to Evanston

CINCINNATI – When Urban Stead Cheese shop officially opens Friday in Evanston, people will be able to watch as milk is turned into cheese for them to eat.

"Our goal is to make hand-made artisanal cheese in Cincinnati," co-owner Scott Robbins said of the shop, which will be located at 3036 Woodburn Ave. "You'll be able to see it from our tasting room right into our aging rooms."

Urban Stead will be the only place in the city of Cincinnati making cheese on-site. It will use locally sourced milk to produce its various cheeses, a process costumers can watch through windows installed in Urban Stead's tasting room that look into the production area.  

Urban Stead's operation will be similar to My Artisano Foods LLC, the artisanal cheese-making shop opened by Eduardo Rodriguez in the village of Lockland in 2013.

Robbins and his business partner and wife, Andrea Siefring-Robbins, said they plan to announce a grand opening date for Urban Stead soon.

The Robbinses said they started planning Urban Stead more than three years ago.

"Entertaining and food culture are at the heart of everything Scott and I enjoy," Siefring-Robbins said. "We always end up at cheese places. And before Scott and I got married, we knew we wanted to start a business together. This idea hit all of our priorities. We want to bring locally made, good cheese to Cincinnati."

Andrea Siefring-Robbins and Scott Robbins

Urban Stead initially will offer fresh cheese curds, followed by beer cheese, a Camembert-style cheese and quark.

"Quark is a German cream cheese that people in Cincinnati don't know they need yet," Robbins said.

He added those softer cheeses do not take as long to age as some others.

Once full production begins in February, people will be able to see wheels of bandaged cheddar, Gouda and a Gruyère-style cheese age in two temperature-controlled rooms. It will take eight to nine months to age their Old World-style cheddar, Siefring-Robbins said.

"We will then sell it here, but we'll also sell it out of other locations," she said. "It is also our goal to partner with area restaurants, and we've had some of those conversations to have our cheese on their boards and menus."

The tasting room, which seats 82 people, is a fully licensed bar with four taps, multiple canned local craft beers, liquor and wines to pair with Urban Stead's cheeses. Robbins, a certified sommelier with more than 20 years of experience in the food and wine industry, said he will select more wines for pairings as Urban Stead increases its cheese offerings.

Robbins said he studied cheesemaking at Westminster Artisan Cheesemaking in Vermont under Peter Dixon, a dairy foods consultant and artisan cheesemaker with 30 years of experience.

"And then we are working with an incredible consultant, Neville McNaughton, out of St. Louis," he said. "They've been very helpful with creating some recipes and moving us forward with our production facilities."

Urban Stead's name is a play on "farmstead," since the couple is bringing something typically done on a farm to the city, Siefring-Robbins said.  

"We're excited to contribute to the momentum that Evanston and East Walnut Hills has," Siefring-Robbins said. "We also feel like this area has a really good sense of community."

The Robbinses spent the last year rehabilitating their 8,300-square-foot building, which had sat empty for 10 years. The couple said they have plenty of space to grow and plan to expand into creating seasonal cheeses in the future.

Urban Stead Cheese's hours will be 2-9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; noon- 9 p.m. Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday; and closed on Monday.

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