Robin Schick takes a bite out the cheese-making biz.
Robin Schick had been a salesperson, flight attendant and stay-at-home mom. Her sister, Cathy Lynne Spivey, had a horse farm with pet goats. Ten years ago, neither knew anything about cheese making, yet they’d go on to open Sandy Springs’ own CalyRoad Creamery in 2010.
“We hadn’t intended to get involved in the food industry; we just liked playing with the goats,” says Schick, who eventually bought out her sister’s share of the business. On the hunt for a new career, the sisters ordered feasibility studies on the business of goat milking and did internships at farms in North Carolina and Alabama. “We came away with an awareness of the commitment and strenuous labor involved in taking care of animals 365 days a year,” she says. “In the meantime, we fell in love with cheese making.”
They studied at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, and after a few starts and stops, ended up building a dairy manufacturing plant on Hilderbrand Drive. These days, CalyRoad makes about 12 cheeses, including mozzarella, aged and spiced goat, feta, blue, Camembert and curds. Its cheeses have been used by noted chefs such as Anne Quatrano and are served on select international Delta flights. Below, Schick tells us more about her business.
How has CalyRoad grown since it first opened?
We went from having a 35-gallon vat to a 350-gallon vat last winter. Conceivably, that means we could bring in 1,000 gallons of milk per week and process it within three days, making 1,000 pounds of cheese a week.
Which cheeses are your best-sellers?
During tomato season, the mozzarella sells out. In the winter, the blue cheese and the [Camembert-style] Waypoint do well. BlackRock goat cheese, aged with a coarse pepper rind, is popular, too.
Which ones are the hardest to make?
Mozzarella is the trickiest because you have to make sure the pH level is right. You never know what the acidity level of the milk is. Mozzarella will only stretch at 5.1 pH. If you miss it, you don’t have mozzarella. If you try to stretch too early, you don’t have the tender quality.
Aside from CalyRoad, where can people buy your cheeses?
We sell to local restaurants like Saltyard, Floataway Cafe, No. 246, St. Cecilia, Wahoo! Grill and Corner Cafe.
These days, how do you spend your time with the company?
I’m fortunate to have recently found a fellow to lead the cheese making. I find myself doing the marketing and decision-making about pricing, and working with the sales director about expanding our business. I like being in my shop, leading classes and wine and cheese tastings.
Tell me about the classes and retail offerings.
We have one cheese class a month and about two wine and cheese tastings a month. We have tours on Saturdays, but are open Tuesday through Saturday for people to come buy cheese. We support local products, as well as imported and regional ones such as chutneys, balsamic jams, mortadella, prosciutto and sourdough crackers.
227 Hilderbrand Drive N.E.
Sandy Springs 30328
STORY: Carly Cooper
Foodie Tastemaker Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Contributing Editor at Atlanta Magazine. Restaurant Aficionado and Mother of Two.