Blu, A Wine & Cheese Stop is ceasing operations at its Mercado San Agustin location. According to the press release sent out Monday morning, an agreement was not able to be reached between Blu and the Mercado owners.
The artisan wine and cheese store, which began without a brick and mortar location before setting shop inside Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil & Balsamic, had three locations at one time before settling into the Mercado.
“I’m so thankful for the way Tucsonans have embraced what we’re doing at Blu,” said Blu owner Tana Fryer. “I’m especially proud of the way we’ve been able to promote great local cheese and wine makers.”
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From the press release:
Blu A Wine & Cheese Stop launched in October 2012 with a catering and wholesale program that elevated the artisanal cheese scene in Tucson to a whole new level. In January 2014, Blu opened a retail shop and wine bar at the Mercado San Agustin. Blu’s owner, Tana Fryer, announced today that Blu is leaving the Mercado after reaching an impasse with her landlords.
Blu A Wine & Cheese Stop will continue doing catering, private events, working with restaurants to develop and support their cheese programs, as well as gifting. Fryer’s focus on artisanal cheeses made in America, her passion for Arizona wines, her love of teaching about these foods and telling the story of their makers, and a seasonal menu using organic and local products makes Blu unique in Tucson. “Blu’s mission is to build community around good stories and great food,” Fryer said. “I plan to continue that mission in new ways and a new location.”
Blu’s menu and retail program features cheeses and wines not available anyplace else in Tucson and Blu’s cheesemongers were hired, in part, for their ability to tell a good story. “I always ask this one question in interviews,” Fryer said. “Describe your favorite meal.” If the interviewee’s description doesn’t make Fryer’s mouth water, they don’t get the job. “I know the names of just about everyone who makes the products we sell at Blu,” Fryer said. “I have met most of them personally, too. Whether our customers order a cheese board to go with their glass of wine or cheese-to-go, I want them to feel like they know the makers. I want my staff to be able to tell those stories. It matters that we know where our food comes from.”
Fryer expressed disappointment about closing her doors at the Mercado San Agustin. “We had hoped and planned to be part of the Mercado for a long time,” she said. “It makes me sad that we couldn’t come to terms with our landlord and it was awful to tell my team that most of them don’t have jobs anymore.” From the beginning, Fryer made a commitment to make sure each of her employees is paid an hourly wage equal to or greater than the City of Tucson’s living wage. “No one can survive on the minimum wage,” she said. “And my team works hard. I’m so thankful for them.”
Blu celebrated its 3-year anniversary last week with a 3-day party and a friends and family thank you event. “When one door closes,” Fryer said, “others always open, and I’m excited about the possibilities that are opening up for me right now.”