Plant-Based Shop Mad Cheese Opens Brick-and-Mortar Location

The vegan cheese shop takes its online popularity to the streets of Madisonville, starting this weekend.
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OCTOBER 2023

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MAD CHEESE

When Heather Donaldson and her husband, Reggie, decided to try a vegan diet for one week four years ago, she had no idea it would lead to a thriving business. “We wanted to do more to help the environment and were hopeful that we would enjoy the food enough to make it our permanent way of eating,” she says.

Well, one week turned into two weeks, and before she knew it, they were fully invested. “We had more energy, less aches and overall, just felt better,” she explains. “I was enjoying working with new ingredients and flavor combinations in the kitchen, too.”

That kitchen work combined with the couple’s love of artisan cheeses and charcuterie helped Donaldson develop several of her own cheese recipes.

“I wasn’t thrilled with the commercial vegan options available, so began researching how to create and age plant-based cheeses and meats at home,” she says. “When the pandemic hit, we both ended up at home with no outside work. This gave me plenty of time to work on perfecting my recipes.”

Donaldson and her husband, both Cincinnati natives, moved back to the Queen City from Los Angeles in fall 2020 to help care for older family members, purchasing and renovating a 1889 farmhouse in Madisonville. As she continued to tinker with her cheese recipes, she started giving samples to friends and family, who in turn, shared them with their friends and family.

“I started getting requests from people I had never even met,” she says. “People wanted to be able to buy them, and Mad Cheese was born.”

In the two and a half years since, Donaldson’s vegan cheese brand has gained quite a following, so much so that she’s officially opening a brick-and-mortar location at 5903 1/2 Bramble Avenue in Madisonville this weekend.

Customers can enjoy in-store shopping and sample popular products—like Greener Pastures, the brand’s best-selling herbed goat cheese, which is similar to Boursin in flavor and mouthfeel. In addition to retail, the space will eventually host tastings, classes, and private events, while showcasing products from local businesses.

“It can be challenging to eat plant-based in Cincinnati,” Donaldson says. “Even though menus have expanded to include plant-based options in the past few years, there are no completely plant-based places to eat or shop. As a foodie, I have been passionate from the start about having a space where a plant-based eater can order literally everything.”

The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Visit www.madcheese.com or the Facebook page at facecbook.com/MadCheeseCincy for more information.

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