Mouse Hole Cheese Shop brings nibbles to East Downtown ABQ

New cheese shop brings nibbles to East Downtown

 

From left, The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop owners Nathan Sauceda-Halliday and Mekala Kenneday at one of their East Downtown businesses. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Mekala Kennedy and Nathan Sauceda-Halliday want to talk to you about cheese.

The couple, who opened local and organic ingredient-focused La Finca Bowls in 2020, opened their newest venture, The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop last month. The East Downtown location at 300 Broadway NE location is just next door to gluten-free and vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurant La Finca Bowls.

“We have no problem saying we’re not cheese experts. We just really enjoy cheese. We like learning about cheese,” Kennedy said. “And … the team that we hired to come on with us, they’re not cheese experts too, they just love cheese and want to learn about it and have a passion for learning more about it.”

Kennedy and Sauceda-Halliday met when they were both working at Santa Monica hotel Shutters on the Beach, Kennedy as a hostess and Sauceda-Halliday as a bartender. When living in Los Angeles, the pair would often walk to a nearby cheese shop that partly inspired the Mouse Hole.

A variety of cheeses at The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

“We used to go there and try different cheeses all the time,” Kennedy said. “One of the ways we really connected was just eating a bunch of really delicious food.”

The couple wanted to bring the approachability from that cheese shop to their own.

“You’d walk in there and they would just talk,” Sauceda-Halliday said. “I’d ask a million questions about all the cheese and they’d give you tastes and walk you through it.”

There are over 40 cheeses behind the glass at The Mouse Hole, sourced from around the world. The menu features three regional cheese boards: a Spanish board, a French board and a local board. Cheeses are paired with fruits, vegetables and other snacks native to the areas where the cheeses were produced.

The staff is just as excited to talk about cheese as the owners, Sauceda-Halliday said, and answer any questions customers have.

“It is a cheese shop and it’s fancy, but we want it to be approachable,” Sauceda-Halliday said.

Local food products sold at The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The couple expanded the menu from just cheese and grab-and-go snacks over the past few weeks.

“People weren’t really coming in here and running,” Sauceda-Halliday said. “We had a couple of Saturday, two people on their own: one board, a couple of glasses of wine, three hours just talking, hanging out, which is awesome. It’s just wildly cool to see someone enjoy a space that long.”

Although much of the cheese is imported, Kennedy and Sauceda-Halliday make an effort to sell New Mexico-produced products in the store, including pickles, wine, mustard and 505 Resin Works cheese boards.

“We know like how much of an impact it makes on our community,” Kennedy said.

The dining room, complete with a mural, at The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

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 dividing the cheese shop from the dining area. Seating and glassware in the cheese shop’s small dining room is sourced from local antique shops, including two 1920s-era parlor chairs and a kaleidescope of different china plates and wine glasses. Artwork and photographs made by the staff of the Mouse Hole also line the walls.

“You could definitely go to Whole Foods or Smith’s, or whatever, and get some really good cheeses,” Kennedy said. “I think we’re just creating a more intimate shopping experience.”

The Mouse Hole is open 12-8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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