Mekala Kennedy and Nathan Sauceda-Halliday would like to talk to you about cheese.
The couple, who opened La Finca Bowls in 2020 with a focus on local and organic ingredients, opened their newest venture, The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop, last month. The East Downtown location at 300 Broadway NE is adjacent to La Finca Bowls, a gluten free, vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurant.
“We have no problem saying that we are not cheese experts. We just really enjoy cheese. We love learning about cheese,” Kennedy said. “And … the team that we hired to come with us, they’re not cheese experts either, they just love cheese and want to learn about it and have a passion for learning more about it.”
Kennedy and Sauceda-Halliday met while they both worked at the Shutters on the Beach hotel in Santa Monica, Kennedy as a hostess and Sauceda-Halliday as a bartender. Living in Los Angeles, the two often went to a nearby cheese shop, which partially inspired the mouse hole.
“We used to go there and try different cheeses all the time,” Kennedy said. “One of the ways we really bonded was just by eating some really tasty foods.”
The couple wanted to bring the accessibility of this cheese shop into their own.
“You would walk in there and they would just talk,” Sauceda-Halliday said. “I’d ask a million questions about all that cheese, and they’d give you flavor and guide you through it.”
Behind the glass at The Mouse Hole are over 40 types of cheese from around the world. There are three regional cheese boards on the menu: a Spanish board, a French board, and a local board. Cheese is paired with fruits, vegetables, and other snacks native to the areas where the cheese was made.
The staff is just as excited to talk about cheese as the owners, Sauceda-Halliday said, and will answer any questions customers have.
“It’s a fancy cheese shop, but we want it to be accessible,” Sauceda-Halliday said.
The couple has been expanding the menu to include cheese and grab-and-go snacks in recent weeks.
“People didn’t really come here and run,” Sauceda-Halliday said. “We had a couple of Saturdays, two people to themselves: a board, a few glasses of wine, three hours just talking, hanging out, which is great. It’s just so cool to see someone enjoying a room for so long.”
Though much of the cheese is imported, Kennedy and Sauceda-Halliday strive to sell New Mexico-made products at the store, including pickles, wine, mustard, and cheeseboards from 505 Resin Works.
“We know how much of an impact it’s having on our community,” Kennedy said.
The local approach can even be seen on the walls. A gold mouse mural by Angelia Santistevan, who the couple met through La Finca Bowls, peeks through the archway that separates the cheese shop from the dining area. Seating and glassware in the cheese shop’s small dining room are sourced from local antique shops, including two 1920s saloon chairs and a kaleidoscope of various china plates and wine glasses. Artwork and photographs taken by the Mouse Hole’s staff also line the walls.
“You could definitely go to Whole Foods or Smith’s or whatever and get really good cheese,” Kennedy said. “I think we’re just creating a more intimate shopping experience.”
The mouse hole is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Fresh from the farm: La Finca Bowls offers organic, locally sourced delicacies with vegan options
La Finca Bowls offers organic, locally sourced delights with vegan options…