The ratio of banks to other businesses on the Capitol Square will shrink a bit this autumn. In addition to the Sucre patisserie and dessert lounge opening in the former McDonald's storefront on West Mifflin Street, an artisan cheese shop called Fromagination will open at 22 S. Carroll St.
Ken Monteleone, a Madison resident who learned to love artisan and farmhouse cheese while spending the last 13 years traveling around Europe as an apparel purchaser, is the creator of Fromagination. He signed the lease this week for a 1,600 sq. ft. space near the Inn on the Park that was last home to the Kathleen Falk for Attorney General campaign.
"I hope it will be a nice extension of the Dane County Farmers' Market," says Monteleone. While several artisan cheesemakers sell on the Square Saturday mornings during the farmers market, Fromagination will offer a year-round selection of cut-to-order artisan cheeses from Wisconsin, the U.S., and Europe.
The shop will also sell gourmet breads, charcuterie, olives, vinegars, chutneys, herbs, and preserves -- the sort of deli-style provisions, in other words, that have been missing from the Square since Jacobson Bros. shuttered its store.
"It will be a carefully selected assortment that showcases products from both Wisconsin and around the world," says Monteleone.
As described by Fromagination's fledgling online arm:
Our products are beautiful, flavorful and infused with the spirit of the craftsmen who created them -- perfect pyramids of fresh chevre, smooth organic olive oils, warm, freshly baked breads -- things that remind us that simple foods deliver great pleasure. We draw inspiration from products that make us feel healthy and vibrant. Many of our offerings are made with organic, sustainably produced and all natural ingredients.
Beers and wines are also slated to be sold, with a liquor license already under review by the city's Alcohol License Review Committee.
Monteleone says of the store design: "It will have a very rustic, European flair. There will be a lot of eco-friendly elements that will go into its look."
The floor will be made of recycled slate tiles from an abandoned Chicago warehouse, while the décor will include a nearly century-old collection of clocks previously displayed in the Capitol. Milk protein paint and high efficiency lighting are also planned. "The concept is really all about celebrating the artisan, and making a connection with the customer," says Monteleone.
Along with Sucre and the recently-opened Candinas chocolatier on West Main Street, Fromagination's opening will further the spread of gourmet food shops around the Square. At this rate, they're keeping pace with the opening of banks.