Based in Greenwich Village, Murray’s Cheese Brand has recently expanded to 100 stores nationwide, bringing its cheesy heaven to foodies everywhere. Luckily for L.A. residents, the one-hundredth store — a milestone in the company’s history — happens to be located in Studio City, Calif., officially establishing the brand as coast-to-coast.
Murray’s Cheese Bar was opened in 1940 by Murray Greenberg to cater to the wealthy Italian population on Bleecker Street at the time. Murray’s was a humble family-owned shop on the corner until the early nineties when Rob Kaufelt took the then-failing business into his own hands. He traveled the globe to vastly expand his store’s collection, making it the well-established and respected store it is today, all while keeping the family-run feel at the core of the company.
Murray’s nationwide venture began in 2008 through a partnership with Kroger, the parent company of Ralphs. The grocery store offers 300 to 400 square feet to create these “stores-within-a-store,” while Murray’s gives it a cheese selection far superior to an average deli counter. Currently, the company’s shops fill Kroger-owned grocery stores in 11 states, and though its 100-store goal is now a reality with the recent opening in Los Angeles, the company plans to continue to expand to Ralphs locations throughout the city.
The local Ralphs grocery store houses the Studio City Murray’s, which greets customers with its signature colorful branding that encompasses the “store-within-a-store.” Shelves are packed with more than 100 types of cheeses, ranging from $5-$30, and trained Ralphs workers are there to offer assistance. Whether customers are looking for classic cheddar or deciding to test out a cheese with a name they can barely pronounce, the Murray’s Cheese section has it all and more.
Every item on display has a thorough description card, telling the customer where the cheese was made and exactly what to expect in taste. Special green labels highlight local items made here in California, such as the San Andreas cheese, made on a farm stationed upon the fault line of the same name. For $29.99 a pound, expect a taste that is “nutty with hints of earth and moss.”
Upon announcing its more recent expansions, Murray’s explained how it is incorporating its brand nationwide through cooperation with local dairy makers.
Murray’s however doesn’t stop at just cheese. The selection of food ranges from crackers and spreads to charcuterie and salts to almonds, antipasti and other classic cheese accompaniments that line the shelves. At $7.99 per pound, one can indulge in an extensive olive bar that fills an entire quarter of the mini store. For $23.99, a brilliantly hand-selected cheese board is already prepared and there for the taking.
A new favorite for California customers is the Happy Goat Caramel Sauce. Though a combination of goat cheese and caramel is hardly what one might imagine to be tasty, the mix of the sweet and smooth flavors creates a delicious topping for cheese, fruit and more. Even though it’s a little pricey at $16.99 for a 10-ounce jar, the sauce is definitely worth a try. For $7 more, one can take the delectable sauce one step further with an Aberlour Speyside 12-year single malt Scotch added to the mix.
Even though everything the store has to offer is great, it might not be worth making the trek to Studio City for the average USC student — unless that student is an avid food lover or likes to eat something more complex than a bottle of spray cheese and Ritz crackers for an afternoon snack. In addition, what college student on a budget is going to spend $30 on a block of cheese, only to have to buy $5 cheese paper to store it in?
But if you’re in the mood for a drive or want to go grocery shopping at Ralph’s, head north and take a look at the Murray’s Cheese section. Though pricier cheeses such as the San Andreas Cheese are probably out of any students’ price range, there are many selections under $10 per pound. Need more incentive? There are loads of free samples, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a bit more about different kinds of cheese.