GOSHEN — Growing up near Brussels, Belgium, Rachel Shenk ate bread and cheese with almost every meal, including dessert.
Shenk moved to the United States when she was a teenager but travels back to Europe every year, often gleaning inspiration for her own bakery and restaurant. She opened Rachel’s Bread at 212 W. Washington St. in Goshen 20 years ago, and the time has come to expand.
“I grew up with the concept that you always have cheese around, and it was always good cheese,” Shenk said. “So a natural progression here making European-style breads, I thought about what people would want to buy along with bread – cheese.”
Shenk hopes to open her own cheese shop next door to Rachel’s Bread in a space that was part of Sweet Water Interiors. But before she can open the business, Shenk will have to get approval from the local health department and make some renovations, including new sinks, more lighting and improvements to the walls and floors. She does not have a specific time frame for the new shop but hopes to have it open later this year.
Shenk said she plans to model the shop after the markets she visited in southern France. In Europe, she said, people regularly take trips to specialized markets to buy their groceries.
“In the little town that I grew up in, there’s a baker, a butcher, a little cheese shop, a green grocer, and you go to all those places to get what you want,” Shenk said. “With opening a cheese shop, the idea is that people know they can come here and get service with a person who is handling cheese all the time and has some knowledge about the cheese.”
Shenk plans to offer a combination of imported cheeses from Europe and high-quality American cheese from local producers. She may add olive oil, spices, butter and yogurt to the menu.
Opening a cheese shop has not always been part of Shenk’s grand plan, but she said “Goshen is ready for this.”
“Five years ago, if I would have considered doing it, I don’t think I would have been ready,” she said. “But I think there is a development happening in this area of town with the new brew pub coming in over here, the Hawks building over here is being renovated and there’s a little more circulation.”
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.