Reggie Jones knows a thing or two about really gouda cheese. After 20 years in the cheesemaking biz, Jones opened his first manufactury, Paso Robles’ Central Coast Creamery, more than a decade ago.
Last month, he opened a new Santa Cruz outpost. The Abbott Square shop sells grilled cheeses (including a goat-cheese melt), charcuterie and 10 flavors of sheep’s milk ice cream.
Central Coast Creamery sources as close to home as possible, which Jones says can be a challenge since there are only a few dairy farms left in Monterey, and none in Santa Cruz.
Why open a store here?
REGGIE JONES: It made sense for us to go into Abbott Square. They approached us. My family and I have spent a lot of time in Santa Cruz, too. We have a cheese called Seascape that we actually named after Seascape Resort in Aptos.
What got you into making cheese?
I don’t have a cool story about how I’m a fourth-generation cheesemaker or anything like that, but I graduated college in 1991 and there were no jobs. I had a biological sciences degree and I got a job in a lab of a mozzarella factory and it stuck.
When I opened Central Coast Creamery, we started with a goat gouda. All of the goudas that were being made were coming from overseas, and we figured that there was room in the market for a domestic gouda.
What’s the deal with sheep’s milk ice cream?
We had a sub-leaser in our facility, Negranti Creamery, and she was the first one in the U.S. to make sheep milk ice cream. When the Abbott Square opportunity came up, it seemed like a good partnership since there isn’t much dessert in there right now. You don’t have to add cream to sheep milk ice cream. The final product is lower in fat and easier to digest than cow milk ice cream. The flavors change out, they’re seasonal.