Fromage (Oops) Homage to Southern Season

This is a short love story in honor of Valentine’s Day.

I love kitchen gadgets, cheese, wine, chocolate, lovely linens, dining well, ice cream, beautiful serving dishes, learning about food . . . I could go on, but you get the idea.

There’s a place where it all comes together – Southern Season Chapel Hill, NC.

Southern Season was founded in 1975, loved and expanded by Michael Barefoot. In August of 2011 at age 61, Barefoot decided it was time for a change and sold the store to TC Capital Fund. The Fund is a joint venture between two Chapel Hill Investment funds – Carrboro Capital Corp. and Tryon Capital Ventures LLC. Larry Shaw, a Chapel Hill resident with a deep background in retail, was brought on board as CEO and President.

Shaw spoke to a group of us who were taking a tour. He spoke about bringing Southern Seasons back to it’s original focus, but with some major additions to the Chapel Hill store and plans for expansion to other cities.

Larry Shaw
Larry Shaw
Image: http://blog.thegourmez.com

Since taking the helm,  Shaw has overseen the launch of major infrastructure changes, the launch of a new website and the addition of a number of smaller specialty shops: Ice Cream Parlor, Coffee/Tea Shop, Tasting Station, Floral Department,  and Wine Bar (see photos below) within the store. They’ve also added “Dock to Door“, seafood caught and delivered to the store the same day.

The goal, according to Shaw, is to “offer the best in food and entertaining products in the world”, positioning Southern Season “at the forefront of style & taste”. He wants to wow people and hopes they’ll come in and linger. As an enticement, every single product they carry can be sampled in the store.

Share the Food Foundation is a source of particular pride for Shaw. In it’s inaugural year (2012), the Foundation donated $10,000 to eight non-profits “to help end hunger in local communities” surrounding Southern Season locations. Their first actual fundraising event is scheduled for April, 2013.

Non-profit organizations can contact Southern Season about private events, including private shopping experiences.

Future Plans

December, 2012 Southern Season announced plans to open a store in Charleston, SC in the early summer of 2013. The 44,000-square-foot store will be located on Coleman Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant at the Brookgreen Town Center.

And, according to this January 31, 2012 article in the Triangle Business Journal:

“One month after the owners of Chapel Hill’s Southern Season announced plans to open the company’s second store location – in Charleston, S.C. – Southern Season is now making plans to open a third location in Richmond, Va.”

“The Richmond location is expected to open in mid-2014, and it will be the first commercial tenant in the Staples Mill Center mixed-use development that in under construction in Henrico County.”

“The Richmond store is expected to be about 49,000 square feet and will include a bakery, coffee shop, ice cream shop, tasting stations, a cooking school and a full-service restaurant.”

Weathervane Season’s restaurant who’s latest “feather” is Chef Ryan Payne and team’s Win at Got to be NC Fire in the Triangle 2012 competition. See video here.

Cheese – it’s one of my favorite departments at Southern Season. First I ogled over their cases during our tour, then got to taste a few selections during the TerraVITA Cheese & Wine pairing Session, where Alexander Kast (pictured in TerraVITA article), Southern Season’s Head Cheesemonger totally impressed with his fromage knowledge and contagious excitement.

Southern Season Cheese

 

Southern Season Cheese

The last thing I’d like to tell you about is their Cooking School. They offer an extensive list of classes given by chefs, culinary professionals, and cookbook authors. The kitchen is also available for private events.

Southern Season Cooking School

 

Southern Season Cooking School Manager
Marilyn, Cooking School Manager

So basically, stepping in to Southern Season, is like stepping in to a candy shop. Yes, they carry locally and not-locally made candy, but I mean wandering through the WHOLE store was a “kid in a candy shop” experience. If you haven’t been, you HAVE to check it out.

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Southern Season
201 S Estes Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 929-7133

Southern Season on Urbanspoon

For more on Southern Season, including lots of photos, see “TerraVITA 2012 Media Farm Tour: Stop 1, Southern Season

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