From the Source
Atlanta’s gourmet cheese shop CAPELLA CHEESE sets a new standard for quality, community-focused fare
Stocked with wine, local condiments, to-go meals and a variety of luxury cheeses for purchase, Capella Cheese made its debut to the Metro area just last summer. Situated inside Armour Yards, the modern delicatessen is a hub for unique, flavorful fixings.
At the helm is owner Raymond Hook, an Atlanta transplant who brings over 30 years of global sourcing experience to the shop. “I began my career at a restaurant with a cheese counter owned by my family in 1984,” says Hook. “I have worked with cheese and specialty food ever since.” Hook also has a background in food journalism, penning his own cheese column for five years.
As guests make their way inside Hook’s latest establishment, a large refrigerator showcasing various cheeses of all shapes and sizes takes center stage. “We are a cut-to-order shop—no piles of precut cheese wrapped in plastic waiting around to be bought,” says Hook. “We let customers try the cheese first to see if they like it and have knowledgeable cheesemongers to help guide them.”
All of Capella’s domestic products are locally sourced with freshness and quality at the forefront. Their imported cheeses hail from companies who have been in the business for decades, like the Parra family who own a biodynamic farm in Spain. This attentiveness to high-quality fare allows Capella to prepare exceptional sandwiches (like their mozzarella sandwich prepared in-house daily), charcuterie boards and side dishes. “We source our domestic cheeses directly from the producers and preorder all of our imported cheeses from the producer or exporters,” says Hook. “We don’t buy from distributors’ stock of inventory, as they have less-than-perfect holding conditions—we want our cheese to be as close to the condition the producers think is perfect.”
What separates Capella from other markets or bodega-style shops are their separate cheese rooms with specifically moderated temperature and humidity controls. “We have three cheese rooms with ultrahigh humidity—perfect temperature for holding cheese,” says Hook. “We don’t use fans in these rooms. All of the rooms can only be accessed from an anteroom that has similar conditions.”
The interiors, primarily designed by Hook’s business partner Clay Jackson alongside architects from ASD | SKY, channel a fresh and clean ambience, while a wall of wine acts as the final stop for guests on their culinary adventure. Grab a bottle and some tasteful accoutrements and make your way to their quaint outdoor seating area. And coming soon: Be on the lookout for mozzarella-making classes on the first Wednesday of every month, plus more specialty happenings to debut this year. capellacheese.com