Big Changes at Fareground's Downtown Food Hall

Antonelli's Cheese Shop to close; new bar set to open

In an announcement sent through their newsletter on Thursday, December 13, Kendall and John Antonelli informed patrons that their Downtown location of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop + Kitchen at Fareground will be closing effective December 31.

Antonelli's Cheese Shop (Photo by John Anderson)

Exactly one year to the date of officially announcing their opening date, Kendall Antonelli said, “I write this with a heavy heart. Both John and I have lost a lot of sleep and shed a lot of tears. We are heartbroken.We have to let go of some really good people. While we've done our best to offer jobs elsewhere in the business, many team members will be seeking employment elsewhere (and we're doing our best to line up some interviews for them). … It's a hard transition. You'll never know the definition of leadership (and how challenging it can be) until you have to stare into someone's eyes and tell them you've failed them and cannot continue to employ them.”

When their retail business at Fareground wasn’t hitting the projected numbers, they adjusted to focus more on the kitchen, but found that the time had come to cut their losses. “We have been lucky. Many of our risks have paid off. This one didn't. We are also taking a huge financial hit this year, but we know that's all part of it. … The chance to open a cheese shop in Austin's first food hall was a dream opportunity, and we knew we wanted to take the risk,” she wrote.

Their Hyde Park shop and wholesale program, in addition to their increasing number of events and classes, are helping to ease the financial and emotional stress that this closure brings. She added, “As for Fareground, it continues on. We wish the best to our fellow business partners there, and we are excited for the full vision of Fareground to be realized, starting with the anticipated opening of the street level bar in early 2019.”

Fareground, managed by ELM Restaurant Group, announced today that construction will begin on Level Up, a street level bar at the corner of Second Street and Congress Avenue. Designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, the new bar will feature crafted cocktails and curated food items from the Food Hall vendors. Fareground also mentioned the Antonelli’s departure, and said a new tenant is confirmed for their space.

“We are very excited about the new tenant and bar as part of the next chapter at Fareground,” says Drew Curren, chef and owner of ELM Restaurant Group. “The Antonellis have helped define the success of Fareground and we are incredibly grateful for their partnership and time with us.”

Closing out the emotional newsletter, Antonelli wrote, “Our core principle is Passion with Purpose, and we find that in spreading smiles through cheese. Telling the story of artisanal producers and their labors of love. And educating through taste, sampling handmade cheese and other treats. … You are good to us, and we know it. We appreciate it. Our goal is to always put more positivity and smiles into the world.”

In addition to signing up for their subscription-based Cheese Club, and a wide range of gift baskets and holiday party opportunities, Austinites can continue to support the beloved cheese institution by participating in many upcoming classes at Antonelli's Cheese Shop in Hyde Park:

12/22 – Taste Off: Seasonal Faves

12/29 – Cheese 101: The Seven Styles

1/3 – Cheese 101: The Seven Styles

1/8 – Cheese 101: The Seven Styles

1/10 – An Antonelli's Cheese Date Night

1/15 – Cheese & Cured Meats

1/22 – Soft Cheese & Bubbles

1/23 – Eat Cheese and Feel Good About It (with Kendall Antonelli)

1/24 – An Antonelli's Cheese Date Night

1/26 – Cheese-y Bus Tour! (details TBD)

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