Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
From Kansas farms to Austin bands, Cheese Plus owner Ray Bair's life experiences span quite a broad spectrum.
In Part 1, Ray takes us back to the early '70s, when he'd spend summers on his grandparents' farm in Kansas. He'd return for the school year to his hometown of Dallas, where he spent his high-school days and stuck around a few years after graduating. A job lured him to Austin, where he later found work at the nascent Whole Foods Market. That eventually helped him land in the Bay Area several years later.
Businesses often have contingency plans, but few if any could've prepared for COVID-19.
In Part 2, Ray tells the story of how he came to own Cheese Plus, a beloved Russian Hill specialty food store that is open during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Leaving the job at Whole Foods that he had for nearly two decades, the store was a natural if difficult transition. In recent days, Ray, his wife, and some friends created the Six Foot Social Club as a way to raise money for small businesses. Ray ends the podcast talking about his hopes and fears for small businesses once the lockdown is lifted.
We recorded this podcast on Zoom during quarantine in San Francisco in April 2020.