Latino cheese franchise offers new experience to consumersEFE News Service
Miami, Nov 26 (EFE).- A franchise run by Hispanics in South Florida is offering a new experience in the consumption of cheeses with more than 100 varieties of the product from which the public can choose.
The Cheese Course is a chain of stores each with trained personnel to guide customers in selecting from among as many as 120 varieties of cheeses from around the world, most of them made on a small scale.
The chain, which started with one store in 2000, now has seven stores in South Florida.
According to figures from Franchise4Hispanics.com, the U.S. small businesses that are growing fastest are those in the hands of Hispanic proprietors and they number about 2.5 million.
A study by the International Franchise Association based on figures from 2007 says that 19.3 percent of all franchises in this country are operated by minorities.
The Cheese Course requires a payment of $40,000 to establish a new store, not to mention the construction costs for that location, which can vary between $400,000 and $800,000.
The company's president, Enrique Altamirano, is working on opening the first store outside of Florida - in Boulder, Colorado - and it will be followed by another in Woodlands, Texas.
Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that each U.S. resident consumes an average of 33.3 pounds of cheese per year, and this figure is predicted to rise to 34.9 pounds by 2020.
"Today the cheese industry is like wine was 20 years ago, when people were interested in knowing more about wines. Once they get to know it, they get hooked on the product, when they find that behind every cheese there is a richness, a history," Altamirano said.
Every Cheese Course shop has a cheesemonger to guide consumers in their selections.
"Taking the long view, I think the same thing can happen with stores specializing in cheeses as with the chains like Starbucks, which managed to penetrate the market and perhaps at the beginning the public didn't know coffee very well," Altamirano said. EFE