Kent Walker Artisan Cheese has closed temporarily and is now under the ownership Raimondo Winery. Kent Walker sold the business Thursday to winery owner Margie Raimondo and will be leaving cheesemaking to spend more time with his family. The Kent Walker Artisan Cheese location on Cross Street will reopen under new branding some time in May.
“Words are not enough to express how wonderful the people of Little Rock have been in supporting small businesses in general and Kent Walker in particular,” says Walker. “It’s been an absolute pleasure.”
Walker and his wife are expecting their first child this summer, and Walker felt running a small business would take too much time away from his wife and child. He began working to sell the business months ago, but found no buyers until he shut down the retail location.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere,” says Walker. “So I closed the store and kept the wholesale business going. Soon, Margie (Raimondo) called me and told me she was interested in buying the place. So I hated to close the store, but it turned out that was the thing that got this whole deal together.”
Raimondo says she plans on keeping much of the business intact. The wholesale side of Kent Walker Artisan Cheese has stayed open all along. In a prepared statement, Raimondo says she is thrilled to add cheesemaking to her business’s offerings.
“Kent Walker Artisan Cheese is the perfect fit for us. We’ve been thinking about expanding our product line to accompany the wine and gourmet products we currently offer, and cheese seemed like the perfect addition. Fermenting cheeses, meats and other foods is a natural extension of winemaking. I’m honored to continue Kent’s commitment to sustainability and to making small batch artisan cheese.”
Also helping with the transition is Dalton Hughes, who has been making the majority of the cheese under Kent Walker’s supervision for the last six months. Hughes will be staying on under Raimondo Winery’s ownership. Raimondo is promising some changes, likely to make the store more wine-centered than it currently is, and says those changes will be announced in the coming weeks. We’ll keep following this story and update you as the grand re-opening approaches.