When Lauren Skoulatos was young, she and her father used to marvel at a hole-in-the-wall storefront near to her childhood home. “Every time we drove by my dad would say, ‘you know, that would make an amazing cheese shop’,” she remembers fondly.
Skoulatos admits she is not sure what became of that specific retail space, but she did stumble upon a similar one in 2013 just next door to her apartment on Cooper St. in Inwood – a discovery that sent her career journey veering down an exciting new path. Now she is running the snack show at her own 322-square foot specialty store in Manhattan’s northernmost neighborhood. It’s aptly named Inwood Gourmet, and it’s proof that good things come in small packages.
“I went from fashion to food,” she explains of her start working as a children’s wear design director. “I knew all about merchandising, buying capacity and sales. But at the end of the day when you’re selling a product, you’re selling a product; instead of children’s outfits, I’m now doing cheese.”
Delectable local dairy is just one of Inwood Gourmet’s offerings. “I want to give people everything they need to host a cocktail party, minus the alcohol,” she explains. Thankfully, there’s a full liquor shop just off the 207 St. subway stop for those seeking libations. And at Inwood Gourmet, would-be revelers will find everything to accompany a fine 2018 Rosé, like crackers, jams, and locally cured charcuterie from Charlito’s Cocina, as well as fresh vegetable boxes sourced via the farm co-op, Zone 7.
“I’m Greek so obviously food has always been very important to me,” she says with a laugh.
In homage to her rich heritage, she also carries an array of Mediterranean staples like flaky spanakopita and imported olives.
“To be successful, you have to be new, fresh and different and that’s what I bring to my store,” she explains passionately. “I try to bring in a new product every week. Whether it’s a new vendor or a new flavor, I pride myself in bringing in products you won’t find up here otherwise.” Some of those unexpected goodies might be a vegan “cheese” from a Brooklyn purveyor or handmade mugs and serving dishes crafted by Nick Park, a New York-based pottery maker and member of the LGBTQ+ community. Visitors can also expect to see rotating works from other tri-state based artists and photographers like Carla DeVore (@carladevorephotography). While waiting for a colorful charcuterie board or gift basket built by Skoulatos herself, foodies just may find something beautiful to hang upon their walls at home. Consider that another perk!
“If you don’t want to travel, allow me to provide,” she says smiling. “I only allow three in the shop at one time to ensure we’re able to give everyone an intimate shopping experience when they come.” If it’s not Skoulatos behind the register ringing up the trappings of a tasty Friday night, it may very well be her mother or her father – the same man who inspired her to follow her dream of opening a cozy neighborhood cheese shop back when she was just a girl.
95 Cooper Street
New York, NY 10034
Tues-Fri: 2pm – 7pm
Sat: 10am – 5pm
Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Last modified: March 8, 2022