Exactly one year after Bites and Boards opened in a small storefront in the Village at Willow Grove, the former cottage business has shifted to a corner spot in the complex with more than double its original square footage.
The airy, window-lined space, which opened in late June, gives Bites and Boards founder and owner Robyn Nicosia Parker more room to produce and sell her popular custom cheeseboards and teach group classes on cheeseboard assembly.
“I like to say it’s a one-stop cheeseboard shop,” says Parker, who has trademarked a formula for creating cheeseboards that she calls the “7 C’s Cheeseboard Method.”
Her custom boards are created with what she considers seven essential components: cheese, color, charcuterie, crunch, crackers, condiments and chocolate. Parker uses the same principles when teaching cheeseboard classes, during which each participant constructs their own board. She says she has taught more than 2,000 students how to assemble cheeseboards to date, earning her a nickname: the “Cheeseboard Lady.”
The new space overlooks Willow Grove’s pedestrian-friendly main street and is situated near Reve Coffee Roasters, Bistro Byronz and Pizza Byronz. Inside are numerous retail items that Parker recommends using in cheeseboards, including cheeses and cured meats, olives, numerous honeys and honey products, chocolates, pepper jellies and other condiments. One wall holds custom cutting boards made by local craftsman Jacob Martin, and on shelves and tables are numerous cookbooks that provide inspiration for creating themed culinary boards.
In the next few weeks, Parker says she will start selling high-quality cheese she’ll cut fresh from whole wheels, enabling customers to order precise amounts to take home. She had hoped this feature would be ready when she opened, but the custom scale she needs has been delayed in arriving.
“It’ll be just like a real cheese shop,” she says. Parker recommends using three different cheeses in a cheeseboard to provide enough variety without being overwhelming.
The new space is also large enough for Parker to obtain a permit for selling retail wine, something she was unable to secure at her former location because it was too small. Permitting is still underway, but Parker says wines should be available by early September, when she plans to have an official grand opening.
“I’m really excited because it’s going to be a small, curated selection of natural wines,” Parker says. “I’m not going to be a big box store, I just want to give my customers some good wines and some education.”
Parker is working with sommelier and Blend Wine Bar owner Scott Higgins to curate her wine shelves with natural, or preservative-free, wines. Selling wines will finally enable Parker to pair a bottle with one of her gift cheeseboards, something she says many customers have requested in the past.
The popular business grew out of personal hobby. About four years ago, Parker began creating and selling cheeseboards out of her home, and amassed a following of fans who saw her Instagram photos. After Willow Grove developer Richard Carmouche received one of her three-foot cheeseboards as a gift, he asked Parker to move into a small space in the development in 2021. Bites and Boards continued to grow over the past year, with orders reaching 200 boards a week during busy periods, and classes becoming popular outings for corporate groups, couples and friends.
The new space gives Parker more than triple the capacity for group classes. Three large farm tables can hold 18 participants, and a fourth can be added for bigger groups.
It also has a prep kitchen, allowing Parker and her growing staff to fill same-day cheeseboard orders, something she was never able to do in the past, she says.
The larger space enables Parker to partner with more small business owners and invite them to participate in pop-ups in her store. Future plans also include cheese and coffee pairing events in partnership with new concept @batonrougecoffee and a hands-on class on making fresh mozzarella.
“I want to increase the educational aspect about cheese in this new space,” Parker says. “As my new tagline in the the logo says, ‘cheese reimagined.'”