The Cheese Board opened as a small cheese store in 1967. In 1971, the two original owners sold their business to their employees and created a 100% worker owned business of which they remained a part. The transition to a worker-owned and operated cooperative relied upon a shared work ethic, high standards, and the strong emotional connections among the group. Decisions were made, after much debate, either on the shift or at the monthly meetings. The new owners shared a belief that the collective process would organically create a truly democratic society.
Over time, we have grown in size and in the number of products we sell. We moved from our first storefront around the corner to our current home on Shattuck Avenue. The cheese store and bakery now features an espresso bar, we sell almost 400 different cheeses and an extensive selection of freshly baked breads and pastries. We have a pizzeria (a few doors down from the cheese store and bakery) that sells the pizza of the day, made from fresh ingredients, for lunch and dinner 5 days a week. Much of what we have done has come about by chance, by following our passion for food and with the support of our community. The belief that every voice is central has sustained us over the years. We have never wavered from the original vision of a democratic workplace. This commitment has made it possible to constantly reinvent ourselves, while remaining faithful to our political vision, and our belief in good, honest food.
“I love saying to people that this seems like an impossible business model, but it works, and it works very well.” - Charlie (Longtime Cheese Board member)
The Cheese Board is part of a greater community of cooperatives. For more information please follow these links.
Ann Arnold is a still-life painter and author and illustrator of children's books. She lives around the corner from the Cheese Board and one of her early watercolors of cheeses is hung on the wall above the olive jars. Her early works, from the 1970's, were executed in gouache on paper, but she now works mostly in oil paint on walnut panels. Her subjects are chiefly fruits and vegetables from her own garden and the local farmers' markets, but she occasionally paints old pottery or porcelain from her own small collection. In 1992, she illustrated Alice Waters' Fanny at Chez Panisse. Farrar, Straus and Giroux published The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer, her picture book biography of the 19th c. French chef, in 2002 . Her most recent book, for young adults, is Sea Cows, Shamans, and Scurvy: Alaska's First Naturalist: Georg Wilhelm Steller.
She has had exhibitions at a number of galleries over the last thirty-five years, both in London and in the United States; currently her work is represented by the North Point Gallery in San Francisco.
The pictures for this website were drawn in pen and ink with watercolor. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pixelette Studios; our neighbors across the street in North Berkeley, CA.