Things are getting cheesier for Ingersoll Avenue
The Cheese Bar will have the same menu plus more of what is offered at the original The Cheese Shop of Des Moines in the Shops at Roosevelt. Patt Johnson/The Register
Cheesemonger C.J. Bienert will expand his compact and popular The Cheese Shop of Des Moines and will open a second location that will focus more on cafe offerings and less on retail sales.
Bienert said Monday that he has signed a lease to take over the space recently vacated by Candela Modern Mexican restaurant and Red China Bistro before that.
He will open The Cheese Bar in early June at 2925 Ingersoll Ave. and feature the menu from The Cheese Shop and more. He opened The Cheese Shop at 833 42nd St. in late 2011 with his wife, Kari Bienert.
The Cheese Bar at 2,000 square feet will seat about 70, with 30 additional spots on the patio. The Cheese Shop now seats about 26 with a small outside patio.
"The cafe portion of our business had grown to the point where people were waiting an hour for a seat," he said.
The new location has a large kitchen, a move up from the tiny basement kitchen where Chef Brett McClavy creates lunch and dinner for guests.
McClavy, a partner in The Cheese Bar, is moving to the new restaurant where he will continue serving the shop's sought-after macaroni and cheese, cheese toasties, charcuterie plates, salads and sandwiches that are made with a long list of cheeses and locally sourced meats and other ingredients.
The Ingersoll location allows Bienert to add more menu items like raclette, a gooey cheese poured over veggies or meats, and a full bar with 30 beers on tap.
He'll sell a scaled-back selection of cheese from the case, and the dining room will retain communal seating at large tables, which is familiar to Cheese Shop patrons.
The walls in the new space will be covered with native woods, he said.
"Seventy-five percent of the space is already finished (from previous tenants). We just have to put our touch on it," he said.
He chose Ingersoll Avenue because it's still in his neighborhood — the new shop is about five minutes from his original location in the Shops at Roosevelt — but it's closer to downtown and may capture new customers.
Ingersoll also has a growing group of local eateries such as Eatery A, Krunkwich Ramen House and the soon-to-open Harbinger, which Bienert said he "will be glad to be part of."
Building owner Jeff Stickel said he is a fan of The Cheese Shop, which serves organic food. That concept fits well with his business ADIO, a chiropractic center in the same building.