Yelp has crowned Parker's Table the best cheese shop in Missouri.
A beloved Richmond Heights specialty store is being recognized for its cheese program, thanks to Yelp. The online review site recently named Parker's Table (7118 Oakland Avenue, Richmond Heights; 314-645-2050)
the best cheese shop in Missouri, an honor based on user ratings. As cheesemonger Phil Billingsley notes, the fact that this honor was customer-driven makes it all the more sweet.
"I take a lot of pride in that," Billingsley says. "I think it's great that it is coming from our customers and that they think so highly of us. That's what we are here for; we're here to provide our customers with the best options and a variety of different price points for everybody."
Parker's Table opened in 1995 in Clayton and moved to its current location in an old post office building in Richmond Heights 17 years later. Owned by Jon Parker, the wine and cheese shop and lunch counter has become a go-to for area food and drink lovers looking for everything from wine, beer and spirits to specialty groceries and sandwiches.
Billingsley, who has worked at Parker's Table for five years and has been leading its cheese program for a little over a year, understands that people come in for items they can't find at a larger, more corporate grocery stores, and he takes their needs into account when he is putting together the cheese selection. As he explains, customers will almost always find core cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, pecorino, stilton, brie and a local cheddar in the case. However, he also tries to incorporate a selection of lesser-known products into the rotation, and often brings back cheeses that the shop has previously offered to see if they have changed.
"With cheese being a living product, it's good to revisit it a couple of times to get an idea of what it's about," Billingsley explains. "Quality can vary so much from wheel to wheel and on the level of ripeness when we get it,"
As much as he takes pride in his curated selection of cheese, Billingsley believes that customers' high opinion of the shop has less to do with a particular product and more to do with the way they are treated when they come in. It's something he keeps front of mind both when he is working with a guest and deciding what to include in the case.
"We really do pride ourselves on a high level of individual customer service," Billingsley says. "We take the time to talk to the guest and find out what they are looking for, what they're all about, and where their particular tastes lie. Just because we are into something doesn't mean they are. It's about finding the right fit."
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