Attitude of Gratitude
by Beth Newcomb
Randy L. McKee photo
When Mark Coblentz started Walnut Creek Cheese in 1977, he didn’t intend for it to become a mainstay attraction for locals and tourists alike — but it did.
Fast-forward to today and you’ll find a store that has evolved into a full-scale grocery business complete with a café and ice cream shop. In fact, the current Walnut Creek Cheese location, which Coblentz relocated to in 2002, boasts a whopping 60,000 square feet of delicious goodness.
And while the variety of foods has changed over the years, one thing Coblentz has been fastidious about is attitude. Well, to be specific, the attitude of everyone who works there. “We always have and always will treat people the way we want to be treated,” he said.
In fact, so dedicated to that mindset is Coblentz and his staff that they sport the company’s service philosophy — respect, stewardship and growth — on their nametags for all to see.
It’s the relationship he and his team have with guests that means as much as the value-priced, high-quality foods they sell. “You’ll feel the difference in every interaction,” he said.
For some guests, that interaction might start at the meat counter, where fresh cuts and ground meats are requested by the pound — not prepackaged and stuffed in a cooler. For others it might start in the Cannery Room, where house-made jams and jellies sold under the Walnut Creek Cheese name are available in hundreds of different flavors. “The entire room is dedicated to delicious jams, jellies, pickled food items and jarred fruits,” Coblentz said. “We also offer samples of our different flavors. It’s nice to be able to try before you buy.”
One of the most popular items, he said, is Walnut Creek Cheese’s Apple Butter Barbeque Sauce. “You won’t find the combination anywhere else,” he said.
A deli with fresh meats and cheeses and an enormous bulk foods area round out the store offerings that also include fresh produce.
Visitors are particularly enjoying the revamped café and creamery, now located on the remodeled upper level. The Mudd Valley Café and Creamery has always been a part of the store, but Coblentz and his team upped the appeal by streamlining the menu and creating a fresh eclectic atmosphere.
The new Stacks, he said, are a huge hit. Starting at just $5 you can order your Stack in a bowl, as a wrap or as a salad. Ingredients are layered the way you want them with a crunchy topping as the finish. “We have a new white cheese sauce that was developed by our café staff. It’s really delicious,” Coblentz said.
In the café you’ll also find fresh specialty sandwiches, breakfast items and the café’s signature custard or hand-dipped ice cream. A dessert station also appeals.
Hamburgers are made with fresh ground beef from the deli, and the pulled pork features house-smoked pork. “We’re really serving up the good stuff,” Coblentz said.
Walnut Creek Cheese is located at 2641 State Route 39 in Walnut Creek; call 330-852-2888. A second location is at 4727 U.S. Route 62 in Berlin; call 330-893-3273. Visit the website www.WalnutCreekCheese.com for hours and more information. Find it on Facebook under the same name.