In 1976, Lyman White didn’t have cheese delivered to his shop—he picked it up himself in his VW single-cab bus. After securing the wheels from various small dairies in Wisconsin, he drove home overnight to Colorado, all in the name of good cheese. Today, Cheese Importers is still a family-owned business—run by two of White’s children, Samm and Clara Natasha—but it now boasts a wholesale division, retail marketplace, and a European-style café.
“There’s a magic at Cheese Importers that you feel immediately when you come in the door,” Lyman says. “Smiles on people’s faces appear, even if they’re not smiling when they come in.” His wife, Linda, does her part, too—she dreamt up the café alongside Clara in the 1990s (which is now ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for Longmont). With an inventory of more than 350 local and imported cheeses and focus on community and quality, Cheese Importers has cemented its status as a beloved local establishment.
culture: What kinds of cheese do you currently offer?
Lyman White: (In addition to imports), we carry every cheese produced in Colorado that is large enough to support retail sales. Something for everybody: Fresh, blue, natural-rind, stinky, too far gone for some, just right for others.
culture: What are your favorite imports?
Lyman White:(Cheeses from) Spain and Italy are some of my favorites. God, Italian Sottocenere,—it’s a phenomenal, raw cow’s milk cheese covered in about five different ashes with black truffles sprinkled throughout. Just amazing.
culture: What local cheese do you recommend to customers?
Lyman White: Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy has a new cow’s milk blend called Cashmere. Broken Shovels Farm Dark Moon is just wonderful. MouCo ColoRouge is one of my favorites, especially if it’s past its best-by date.
culture: What is the strongest cheese in your shop?
Lyman White: I have some great aged cheddars that are eight and 10 years old. Cheeses are kind of like people—they get pretty bite-y and hardcore when they’re middle-aged, but then they mellow out. So those, even though they’re older, aren’t as strong as you might think.
103 Main St.
Mon–Thu: 9 am–6 pm
Fri–Sat: 9 am–8 pm
Sun: 11 am–5 pm