Interview with Murray's Cheese, Greenwich Village NYC
There are a few NYC staples without which the city would feel incomplete. Among these is Murray’s Cheese, our favorite little cheese shop on Bleecker Street that succeeds in maintaining a nonchalant neighborhood feel, despite having acquired a reputation as one of the foremost cheese and specialty grocery retailers in America.
This week, we got the 411 on all things Murray’s Cheese, from the company’s unique history to new and exciting happenings you’d be remiss to skip (read: after-hours cheese class, and weekend cave tours!).
Like any true NYC gem, Murray’s has a backstory - a good one harking back to the year 1940, when a jaunt down Bleecker Street had nothing to do with a spontaneous cupcake break at Magnolia Bakery.
Back then, Bleecker was but an impassable street crowded with pushcarts, filled with all types of produce for sale. In 1940, as an effort to clear the streets, New York City began shutting down Bleecker Street Market and forcing cart operators to move their livelihoods indoors.
Around this time Murray Greenberg, a Jewish veteran of the Spanish Civil War, established what is today the Murray’s Cheese flagship store - back then a humble egg and butter shop (right across from its current location), today a cheese lover’s paradise, in the heart of a neighborhood still known for its fresh pastries, produce, meats and dairy.
Over the course of Murray’s 75+ year history, the company has undergone significant expansion, a recent partnership with Kroger giving Murray’s presence in over 400 grocery stores nation-wide. Today, between a second storefront in Grand Central Station Market, Murray’s Cheese Bar restaurant on Bleecker, and presence in quite a lot of Krogers, this singular shop on Bleecker Street has multiplied to become a veritable dairy magnate.
So why Murray’s, you ask?
Despite this massive growth, there are some fundamental characteristics to Murray’s that’ve stayed unwavering.
Or course we love Murray’s for the company’s obsession with insanely awesome cheese, curated by a buying team who travels the world searching for unique producers. Moreover though, we love the company’s genuine character, manifested daily in-store by the Murray’s cheesemongers who display an enthusiasm, expertise, and commitment to cheese education that you really won't find anywhere else in NYC.
Whether you’re attending a nightly Murray’s cheese class, or merely stopping in to pick up a block of cheddar, you’ll leave Murray’s armed with newly acquired appreciation for, and knowledge of cheese. More likely than not, you’ll also walk out with a different cheese than the one you showed up for, one you never knew you loved, but that a cheesemonger introduced you to. At the end of the day, Murray’s hangs their hat on their educators, the cheesemongers responsible for introducing customers to awesome product and ensuring that they leave the store having discovered something new.
Murray’s emphasis on education is best witnessed in their aforementioned cheese classes, which take place 7 days a week, nightly, in classrooms overlooking the cheese counter. Murray’s Affinage (cheese aging) caves, originally underneath the Bleecker Street shop, have relocated to Long Island City, and as a result, “Murray’s LIC Outpost” is edging onto our list of coveted Mini Escapes - head here on a Saturday for a cave tour and cheese tasting (tickets should be purchased in advance).
What’s new at Murray’s?
Only just recently, the head of Murray’s buying department and the head Cave Master have forayed into actual cheese production, partnering with local cheese maker Old Chatham in Upstate NY and Cornell University to create the first (ever!) Murray’s-made cheese. It’s a NY State Clothbound Cheddar, by the way, and as general lovers of all things locally sourced and cheese-related… we couldn’t be more psyched.
Next time you’re in Greenwich Village, stop into Murray’s, and check out @murrayscheese on Instagram (we love their Sunday cheese squeeze) - a reminder (in case you’ve forgotten…) of just how sexy cheese can be.