Nassau Brewery closed in 1912 leaving its caves, tunnels and vaulted chambers under Bergen Street in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
A commercial renovation of the brewery and ice house properties created both residential and commercial rental units. But what does a commercial developer and property owner do with underground lagering tunnels? These cheese lovers were adventurous. They launched Crown Finish Caves.
Susan and Benton Brown attended cheese making classes in Vermont and France. While they loved the art of cheese making, the business case revealed more profitability in the aging stages of the cheese making process. It also took advantage of the asset they had – the caves- and did not require them to acquire and operate a farm and creamery. Instead, they will commercialize the caves by aging cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Parmesan and others from small and mid-sized creameries. They consulted world class experts to design the perfect cheese aging facility.
Their service is limited to aging cheeses. They are not in the retail market, rather, act as a distributor. They purchase un-aged or “green” cheese for $5-$11 per pound then age it and distribute it on a wholesale basis to cheese retailers at a mark-up for their aging services. Interestingly, they pay the farmer 50% upon sale of the finished aged cheese product to retailers.
Building aging facilities is expensive for cheese makers. This business model allows a creamery to increase cheese production without a capital investment in infrastructure. One cheese maker plans to age cheese in both their own cellars and Crown Finish Caves to compare the end products. Different aging environments can create subtle flavor nuances. I can’t wait to hear about the results!