While it’s been open for the last month, new cheese and charcuterie shop Bites and Boards is gearing up for an official grand opening this weekend at its Village at Willow Grove store. It’s the first brick-and-mortar location for the popular local cheeseboard company.
The Saturday grand opening will give visitors a chance to tour the store and pick up retail items, order custom cheese and charcuterie boards and sample products, says founder Robyn Nicosia Parker. Local specialty cotton candy producer Le Doodle will stop by with sparkling wine-flavored cotton candy, and Chef Schonberg’s Sweets will sample bourbon- and Champagne-infused cupcakes. Regional wine reps will also sample different varietals and blends that pair well with cheese and charcuterie, Parker says.
Parker became known around Baton Rouge as the “cheeseboard lady” after her homegrown Bites and Boards concept took off about three years ago. Colorful, detailed Instagram posts of cheese and charcuterie boards helped her build a large following, right about the time the charcuterie trend was gaining traction across the U.S.
Last year, after Willow Grove developer Richard Carmouche received one of Parker’s three-foot cheeseboards as a gift, he suggested she move into a small retail space in the Perkins Road mixed-use development, Parker says.
“By then, I was doing about 200 boards a week by myself for delivery,” she says. “I figured I would give it a try. Go big or go home.”
Having a permanent location has allowed Parker to sell the same cheeses, cured meats, condiments, crackers and sweets she uses in her gift board arrangements. She also carries hand-crafted cypress cutting boards for making cheese displays at home. Parker had hoped to also sell wine, but the store’s small size—626 square feet—kept her from getting a permit.
The new space also includes Parker’s graze-to-go boxes, which change daily. They feature different combinations of meats, cheeses and other ingredients and make a great portable snack, she says. “People have been picking them up and taking them out to the patio here for a picnic,” Parker says.
Parker also teaches classes on how to make the perfect cheeseboard using her trademarked “7 C’s Cheeseboard Method,” which provides specific instructions on each of seven components: cheese, color, charcuterie, crunch, crackers, condiments and chocolate.
“By this point, I’ve probably taught more than 900 people how to make cheeseboards,” Parker says. “No matter how big or small a board is, I build it the same way, with the right balance of colors, tastes and textures.”
The store features a large island where Parker now holds evening cheeseboard classes that seat 14. Advance registration is required.
“Everybody loves cheese,” Parker says. “Eating cheese makes you happy, and I’m glad to be part of something that invites friends and family to gather around.”