France 44 gets a refresh with expanded cheese shop

Sandwiches, meats, cheese and gourmet grocery items are available at France 44’s expanded cheese shop.

Renovations have transformed France 44, which now features a gourmet grocery, cut-to-order cheese counter and deli.

France 44Sliding doors lead to dining space for meat and cheese boards, melts served with a shot of hot tomato soup, Kopplin’s coffee, a glass of Rickshaw pinot noir or Valrhona brownies.

The wine shop is reoriented to provide more tasting counters every Friday and Saturday.

“We’ve had a lot of success with tastings, but it was crowded,” owner Rick Anderson said.

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The total number of product SKUs has increased by 10 percent, he said, with more bubbles, rosés and specialty liquors for cocktails.

“Cocktails are such a hit right now,” said Anderson, who said the segment continues to grow year over year due in part to popularity with millennials.

Nose-to-tail butchering takes place downstairs, where Merguez or spicy Luganega sausages are made in-house. Imported European cheeses finish aging in basement coolers so they’re served at the optimal moment.

“Time is of the essence,” Anderson said. “Cheese is a living organism.”

Anderson said France 44 pays more than double typical market rates for meats and buys direct from ranchers.

“All the money is going to the rancher, and we know it was ethically raised,” he said. “You create justice through your choices as a consumer.”

France 44 2Manager and buyer Peter Cusic said staff members personally visit farms and can even narrow down the particular day’s cheese they feel is best, ordering wheels from the superior day.

A rotating beer roster is on tap and wine is available by the glass. Happy hour is 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Monday thru Saturday.

The business has been family owned and operated since 1959.