Palo Alto Couple to Realize their Dream to Own and Operate the Village Cheese House

Palo Alto, CA  – The Village Cheese House, a beloved icon in the Palo Alto community, will undergo a physical transformation and mark its 48 anniversary with an ownership transition at its sole location in the Town and Country Center in Palo Alto. The store will close for renovations in November as part of the overall renovation of the shopping center, and re-open in early 2008.

Founded in 1959 by father and son team Frank and Donald Staehnke, the Village Cheese House has served hearty gourmet sandwiches to generations of Palo Alto High School and Stanford University students while pioneering the gourmet food industry in the Bay Area. After Don’s passing, Richard and the rest of the family took over in 1989 and continued this Palo Alto institution. Noah and Sarah Hiken of Palo Alto will own and operate the Village Cheese House when it re-opens in early 2008.

“We can’t imagine a better way to honor our family’s hard work than to ensure that the Village Cheese House remains open for business,” said Richard Staehnke longtime owner of the Cheese House, and son of its original founder. “It is important for us to know that the store will remain a family owned and operated business as it has been for nearly half a century.”

Bernetta Staehnke (Richard’s Mom) remarked on the Hikens, “They are the perfect pair for this opportunity and bring outstanding credentials. This new era of leadership ensures great community-friendly stores will operate in the Town & Country Village.”

Noah Hiken grew up in Palo Alto. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from San Jose State. Noah has worked in the deli/specialty foods industry for 14 years in and around Palo Alto including stints as a Senior Sales Manger for Baskin Robbins and Head Cook and Customer Service Manager for John’s Market Deli (another longtime Town & Country Shopping Center fixture). He was also the Deli Supervisor and Cheese Buyer for Whole Foods Market (Palo Alto).

Sarah Hiken is a Mortgage Banker with a double BA in Economics and Accounting from Scripps College with 12 years experience in the banking and finance industry. Both Noah and Sarah are quitting their jobs to operate the Village Cheese House.

“I spent years working across the parking lot from the Cheese House. It feels like everything I’ve done has been leading Sarah and me towards this opportunity,” said Noah Hiken.

Once remodeled, the Village Cheese House will include a reconfigured space in the same location.

“Our whole family will be working closely with the Hikens to ensure that everything including our famous sandwiches is transitioned smoothly,” said Richard Staehnke. Claudine (Richard’s wife) says “You will be seeing us but maybe just a little less often.” “This young couple deserves a head start and community support like we had if they are to preserve and build this local treasure.”

“We committed to the entire community that we’d have a unique blend of specialty and every day stores at Town and Country. We are pleased to honor the hard work of the Staehnke family and look forward to the work of the Hiken family in operating this important Palo Alto icon,” said Jim Ellis, of Ellis Partners.

About Ellis Partners:
Ellis Partners LLC was founded in 1993 for the purpose of acquiring and developing commercial real estate properties. The firm has a long history of championing and completing architecturally significant renovation projects.