Stephanie Webster is a high school biology teacher turned cheese shop and wine bar owner. Her expertise and fascination with fermentation and flavors ultimately led to her opening The Rhined cheese shop in Findlay Market three years ago and Oakley Wines a year later.

How did you manage at the cheese shop during the shutdown and now the re-opening?


We were lucky enough to never have to close, although our business changed drastically overnight. The Rhined is considered a grocery just like the other vendors at Findlay Market, but we do have seating for wine and cheese in-house as well. On March 15, we closed that portion of our business and became a straight retail counter. We also decided, because of the size of our tiny cheese shop, to completely close The Rhined to customers and went all online. We are still offering online ordering for curbside pickup and delivery, allowing one customer or family at a time into the shop for cheese and wine to go, and our courtyard is open for wine and cheese at the shop.

What about at Oakley Wines?

Because most of our business is bar business, we decided to consolidate everything to The Rhined and concentrate on one location. We completely closed on March 15. We reopened for retail bottles of wine to-go only on May 19. We were able to add outdoor seating in the alley and reopened for full bar and kitchen service on June 19.

What has changed for your businesses?

My businesses have completely changed.

The Rhined was always bustling with people on weekend afternoons drinking wine, eating cheese, picking up a few things to go home with. Now, the front of our shop is basically a staging area for our online orders. Also, the experience of buying cheese we worked so hard to create has changed. No longer can we sample the cheeses so folks know they like what they are about to buy.

Oakley Wines has also changed dramatically. We hosted so many private events nearly every weekend and were fully booked through the summer. Nearly all of the previously booked events have been canceled and we have not received many new inquiries, understandably.