This post is part of a series in partnership with, which is a web development platform enabling anyone to build a stunning online presence using simple cloud-based creation and management tools. Join us for an event on the Business of Making in partnership with Wix in New York on November 24th - RSVP here

We’re interviewing some of our favorite makers leading up to our event on the Business of Making on November 24th in New York. This week we chatted with Hannah Howard, the Creative Content Manager for Murray’s Cheese. We’ve featured Murray’s Cheese in the NY Makers Digest for their hands-on cheese making workshops, and were thrilled to have the chance to learn more about what makes them tick. Hannah Howard is a writer and food expert who not only helps tell the stories of Murray’s Cheese and their community, but is also an independent food writer. We talked to her about how she got involved with the company and how technology and their community of customers and partners have helped shape who they are today.

Murray’s Cheese has a rich history and is the oldest cheese shop in New York. How has your history influenced what you are today?

We’re a neighborhood mom and pop shop at heart, even as we grow dramatically. We intimately know the people we work with—our cheesemakers who collaborate with us, our wholesale customers who craft cheese plates for great New York restaurants, and of course, our customers. These wonderful relationships make Murray’s who and what we are.

Also, we learn how to do our thing better all the time—more about buying cheese, selling cheese, aging cheese and sharing all the cheese love with our customers.

You host a number of events in your space, including some hands-on cheese making workshops. What can you tell us about your community and who attends those workshops?

The amazing thing about cheese is that it has the power to bring people together. Cheese makes people happy. Really, truly, viscerally happy.

All kinds of people from all walks of life love cheese. Getting to create and nurture a community of cheese-lovers in New York and in our 250 Murray’s within Kroger stores across the country is a true joy. It’s not one kind of profile or person who loves cheese. It’s a human thing.


What brought you to Murray’s Cheese, how did you personally get involved?

I’ve always loved cheese. My first job was at Picholine (I was 18!)—the now defunct Lincoln Center restaurant where Max McCalman had his famous cheese cart. I got to get close and personal with his cheese beauties. I discovered that cheeseland is a magical land. I never wanted to leave, and so I haven’t. Cheese has this miraculous power to ignite joy, and it ignited joy in me.

I pursued the siren call of cheese from there—I interned at the cheese caves at Artisanal Cheese Center; I helped open Casellula Cheese & Wine Café; I ran a cheese program for a fine dining restaurant in Philadelphia; and I worked with my cheese hero, Steven Jenkins at Fairway Market. That whole time, I respected Murray’s as the New York cheese institution, a great bastion of fantastic cheese, so it seems awesome cheese karma that I am here now! I am lucky. I am surrounded by passionate, brilliant people and an abundance of deliciousness.

For a business so steeped in history, have there been any surprises as you’ve grown the company?

Murray’s has been routed in New York City for 75 years. We opened our first Murray’s store within a Kroger supermarket in 2008, and today have 250 stores and counting across the country.

A happy surprise has been that people everywhere experience that same cheese excitement, connection and joy that led me to my career in cheese. From Arkansas to Alabama to Alaska, cheese simply makes people ridiculously, uniquely happy. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor or live in a small rural town or a big city—cheese brings people together and gets them excited. It satisfies stomachs and hearts. We’re surprised to see the extent to which this is a ubiquitous truth.

As a brick and mortar shop how has your online presence impacted your success – do you have any tips for other business owners?

People have a connection to the experience of shopping at Murray’s. We want to channel that in-person experience—customer service, personality, knowledge, sense of place—into everything we do, including e-commerce and our online and mobile platforms. Everything speaks.

What’s coming up next for you, what are you excited about for either the end of the year or 2016?

So much! Our CaveMaster cheeses are glorious collaborations between cheesemakers and Murray’s, where we work together to create brand new cheeses and age them to perfection in our caves. For the first time, our CaveMaster cheeses will be available in our stores across the country.

We’re expanding our private label offerings, including a line of charcuterie launching in the upcoming months. We’re constantly searching for and discovering wonderful new finds. And we’re opening 100 new Murray’s within Kroger stores in 2016.

Do you have any words of advice for young makers looking to start their own food business?

There is a whole lot of wonderful food out there, so have a reason for making and selling yours. At the end of the day, people want great flavor and fair prices. (Gorgeous packaging and a juicy story don’t hurt.)

We try to add in a section on the “business of making” to showcase how businesses and projects get off the ground. We have three questions we ask as part of this:

How are you funded? (was there external investment, were you already profitable?)

We’re privately owned and operated. Rob Kaufelt is our owner and president.

What is the biggest business hurdle you are tackling right now?

We’re growing incredibly quickly. There is a creative tension between becoming the national cheese brand and maintaining our small, neighborhood ethos and soul. It’s a big challenge, and we’re up for it.

Have you partnered with any organizations in your city (Makerspaces, small-batch manufacturers, schools) that have helped you in your process?) Please name them specifically.

We wouldn’t exist without our partners and collaborators: cheesemakers, salami-makers, chocolatiers, brewers—there are way too many to name here. I am continuously inspired by the talent and generosity of those we work with.

The American Cheese Society has been seminal in furthering the craft and business of American artisanal cheesemaking. Our partnership with Kroger is seminal. Our customers are everything.

Learn more about Hannah on her website and follow her updates on Instagram and don’t forget to check out Murray’s class calendar for workshops. You can also meet Hannah in person on November 24th in New York at our Business of Making event with


Want to find more ways to unleash your inner maker? Subscribe to the Makers Digest for your city and get a weekly rundown of maker events, workshops, and activities happening where you live.
Subscribe Today