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Small Business of the Year: Saxelby Cheesemongers

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The NYC Small Business Services department named Essex Street Market vendor Saxelby Cheesemongers as its top Manhattan company this week as part of its “Neighborhood Achievement Awards.” The Small Business of the Year Award honors “an entrepreneur whose business has significantly improved its neighborhood or demonstrated outstanding commitment to the community through offering new or enhanced products and services, generating new activity on a commercial strip, attracting new businesses to the area, or providing exceptional employment opportunities.”

Proprietor Anne Saxelby received the award at a Gracie Mansion banquet Tuesday night. Here’s what the presenters had to say about her company, which opened in 2006: 

Saxelby Cheesemongers has become an important part of the exciting, Lower East Side food scene. Since its inception, Saxelby has been critical in revitalizing the Essex Street Market, which was in disarray and almost entirely vacant several years ago. Today, the market houses several high quality food stalls and specialty shops, largely as a result of Saxelby’s influence.

Saxelby has been at the forefront of educating New Yorkers about sustainable cheese practices, as well as raising the profile of American cheeses. The store primarily sells products from small scale cheese makers in the northeastern United States, sourcing its cheeses from roughly 30 dairies. Supporting these local small businesses and building strong relationships between farmers and consumers have been vital components of Saxelby’s mission and, ultimately, its success.

This past year, Saxelby expanded with a new space in Red Hook that will serve as a home office and a facility that includes a cheese “cave” (temperature-controlled room set to ideal cheese-aging conditions). Saxelby will also be curating and supplying the cheese selection at Épicerie Boulud, the new fancy food shop from Chef Daniel Boulud, opening on West 64th Street this month.

In addition to building a successful business, Saxelby has been strong public advocate among her fellow Essex Street Market merchants throughout the last year, as proposals for the Seward Park Urban Redevelopment Area have generated planning debates about the market’s future.

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