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The Frenchman's Cellar in Culpeper has expanded and been renamed The Culpeper Cheese Company.
Date published: 9/8/2012
Jeffrey Mitchell keeps hearing the same comment from people entering The Culpeper Cheese Company.
"I didn't realize there was a cheese shop here," they'll say.
The confusion is understandable, even though Mitchell has been selling a wide selection of cheeses at 129 E. Davis St. in downtown Culpeper for five years.
Until recently, his business was called The Frenchman's Cellar, and operated in the back of The Frenchman's Corner. Besides cheese, he sells beer, wine and hard ciders from around the world along with gourmet items.
"Now we have a street presence," Mitchell said. "When we were in the back, it was harder for people to discover us."
Mitchell changed the name of his business in June to clarify the distinction between his business and The Frenchman's Corner when their lease was up and The Frenchman's Corner moved into a smaller space in the same building.
Mitchell is remodeling the entire 3,000-square-foot space he'd shared with that business, and will hold a grand reopening celebration Oct. 6-7, and a ribbon cutting on Oct. 10.
Having more room will allow him to expand his offerings and add a comfortable seating area where customers can enjoy wine by the glass once he gets the appropriate license. He's also turning the space in the back of the building into a classroom with a kitchen. The work is expected to be completed next month.
"The biggest thing is the classroom space," Mitchell said. "I'll just have to open the door and turn on the light. Before, we had to set up after hours and then take down after the class was over and get ready for the next day."
He plans to hold classes in such things as pairing cheeses and wines, making mozzarella and foraging for mushrooms. Schedules will be listed on his website, culpeper
Mitchell didn't set out to be a retailer. He began his career at Eastman Kodak, and he and his wife were working in Northern Virginia when the plane hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. They decided to unplug from urban life and moved to Madison County, where he worked for the Madison Eagle.