Cheese lovers rejoice: The Rind, a speciality cheese bar focusing on gourmet pairings of artisanal cheese plates with wine and beer, is projected to open
in November at 18th and L streets next to Buckhorn Grill.
the old L Wine Lounge space
“Our mission will be to pair wines, beers, ports and bubblies with the featured cheeses so you get to learn how to enjoy them together,” owner Sara Arbabian said. “We’re looking to create a really comfortable and fun environment where you sit down at the bar and order a cheese plate and a glass of whatever you’re jonesing for.”
Arbabian said her vision for The Rind’s architectural design will include capitalizing on the large accordion windows, integrating the outside with the inside and creating an atmosphere that is casual, comfortable and pleasing to the eye.
“It will be casually sophisticated and make you feel like you’re in a modern cheese cave where you can sit down comfortably and stick around for some grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese and salads,” Arbabian said.
Along with those items, there will also be a charcuterie plate featuring only free range and traditionally cured meats, Arbabian said. She plans on embracing all things local – customers could see the likes of Lagunitas Brewing Company as well as old favorites from the now-closed Brew It Up!, which was located at 14th and H streets.
The Rind will also feature rare cheeses for the true turophiles, or cheese connoisseurs, looking for their fix.
“I’ll be going to North Carolina in a week to eat cheese and make relationships with cheese makers over there,” Arbabian said. “I’ll basically be creating those relationships in order to get those exclusive cheeses that people can’t get from large distributors.”
This will not be the first time Arbabian has traveled the distance for cheese — when she began research for The Rind, an idea that blossomed from her personal at-home cheese and wine events, she attended seminars taught by Steve Jones of Cheese Bar in Portland Ore., where she became excited about bringing the concept to Midtown.
According to the feedback elicited by crowds at the Bastille Day Waiter’s Race held on July 14, Arbabian isn’t the only one getting hyped about The Rind. She and her husband, Steve, set up shop in the empty space with tables piled high with cheese, nuts and fliers and awaited the response.
“That event was amazing – we went through 12 pounds of cheese in two hours,” Arbabian said. “We were so grateful to the people who came out to support us.”
One of those happy to see the new business coming in is Phillipe Masoud, owner of the nearby Crepeville, on the corner of 18th and L streets.
“I think it will be good for Midtown,” he said Friday. “It’s always good to have a specialty shop in the area like a wine shop or a cheese shop – and cheese and beer, why not?”
Masoud said he expects the business to do well, as the spot has a lot of visibility with the car and foot traffic, and the idea follows a tried-and-true model, yet aims to deliver a unique product.
In the coming weeks, Arbabian said she and her team will be fine-tuning The Rind’s design and beginning construction that will provide the space with a kitchen and a bar. She said she hopes to open in November, sometime before Thanksgiving.
“What I’m most excited about is providing a forum for people to enjoy cheese, wine and beer,” Arbabian said. “The difference between our cheese bar and your cheese section in a grocery store is significant: It’s going to be the difference between buying a cheese that has already been sitting on the shelf and coming in and sharing the history of where a certain cheese came from and getting interaction and human perspective on it. I think we can reach any level of person in terms of what they want from cheese.”
Editor’s note: The article stated that The Rind is going into the former L Wine Lounge space, but it will, in fact, be in a smaller space between the Former L Wine Lounge and Buckhorn Grill. The incorrect information has been struck out.