If the tree-lined, cobblestoned streets of the West Village could talk, they’d regale us with stories of an historic neighborhood abundant with artists, music, and some of the finest food establishments in Manhattan.
It was eight decades ago in this gastronomic hotbed that Murray (Greenberg) opened the doors of his shop on Cornelia Street, selling mainly eggs, dairy, butter, and block cheeses.
After 30 years serving the Village’s predominantly Italian residents, his clerk—Louis Tudda—began the next chapter in Murray’s history by purchasing the business from Mr. Greenberg and adding items to make it a “little Italian bodega.”
Some 20 successful years later when Murray’s lost its lease, Louis spoke of closing up shop and moving back to Italy—as one customer waiting on line overheard.
This was no ordinary customer, however; Rob Kaufelt’s roots run deep in the grocery industry. After graduating from Cornell University, Rob spearheaded the expansion of his family’s grocery business before he moved to the Village to embark on a career in specialty foods.
This serendipitous encounter proved beneficial for both men as Louis ultimately agreed to sell Rob the business in 1991, and even worked for him behind the counter for a time before heading back to the Old Country.
Moving the store to a new location around the corner on Bleecker Street, Rob essentially “saved” the Murray legacy and transitioned it into a new exciting era.
To the Cheese Cave!
Building on a well-established reputation, Rob got to work expanding Murray’s offerings of Italian cheeses and embraced a re-emerging trend in American cheesemaking at the time.
In 2004, another move to a larger storefront on Bleecker afforded Rob the space he needed to construct cellar cheese “caves” fashioned after those he had toured in France.
These cheese-aging chambers were the first of their kind in America.
Learning from Europe’s most skilled affineurs, Rob and his “cavemasters” began a centuries-old practice of aging artisan cheese wheels acquired from around the world.
Murray’s Cave Aged Program has been so successful in ripening young cheeses until they are á point (perfectly aged and ready to be eaten), that production was moved to a larger Long Island City site.
Precise temperature, consistent humidity and microbial activity is deftly controlled within four large caves customized to enhance the distinct characteristics of products made from the finest dairy farmers and cheese manufacturers across the globe.
A New Age in Aged Cheese
Rob now serves as strategic advisor, and his innovative spirit has continued to help Murray’s revolutionize the cheese industry.
Along with maturing hundreds of cheeses from across the country and around the world, Murray’s develops 30-60 specialty cheeses by adding special ingredients or “washing” cheeses in brine or cider.
After a year of experimentation, Murray’s launched their Cavemaster Reserve Stockinghall Cheddar in 2017—the very first “Murray’s-Made” cheese produced from scratch.
Murray’s has a large online retail store and has grown to include locations in Grand Central Terminal and supermarkets across America.
The Perfect Manhattan Duo
Ayza is thrilled to offer several of Murray’s renowned cheeses as part of our Assorted cheese and charcuterie boards menu.
We invite you to savor the rich tastes and textures of Murray’s Cheese—one of New York City’s most respected and historical food institutions that continues to invent and delight after all these years.