Our Family & History

A Moveable Feast

The most profound memories and lessons of life are often shared over a meal.  In our family it begins in the kitchen,  where you'll find family and friends cooking, telling stories, and reconnecting with a glass of wine in hand.  These have been our moveable feasts, our most memorable occasions, when the fruits of our labor are enjoyed all the more as a result of the joy and cooperation that went into them.  We invite you to our table at Fat Canary to create your own memories.

Cathy, Mary Ellen, and Tom Power are the second generation of the Cheese Shop family, continuing the legacy and telling the story of how it all began.

Back in 1971, Mary Ellen and Thomas Power, our parents, opened a little cheese shop in Warwick Center, Newport News. Our grandparents were worried that the business didn't have a chance. "There isn't enough interest or demand for cheese and wine here, " our grandfather said. "Maybe in Europe, but not in the United States and certainly not in Tidewater, Virginia." But Dad had a vision and Mom agreed to sign on. She knew that at least we'd have good food to eat no matter the outcome.

In the early years at the end of our school day, we would walk from our elementary school to help stock the shelves, sweep the floors, and distribute flyers to help promote the new establishment. It was at that time that we began to learn the values necessary to operate and build a successful business: exceptional products and customer service, attention to detail, and a passion for what you do.

We were lucky that Tidewater had an educated population with an interest in culture and an appreciation for cheese, wine, and the good life. We would like to thank Tidewater's many military families, the College of William and Mary faculty and staff, Colonial Williamsburg's visitors and employees, and our many loyal local customers for helping our family's vision become a reality.

In 1973, Mom and Dad signed their first lease in Colonial Williamsburg. Our grandfather said, "Well Tom, now you have a chance of getting in the New York Times." The new shop on Prince George Street was a "cavernous" 600 square feet.

Over the years, our business has grown up, as have we. In 2003, we finished extensive renovations and moved to a 1930's-era building on Duke of Gloucester Street. With over 9000 square feet, our new venture incorporates a unique combination of three businesses: The Cheese Shop, its wine cellar, and the Fat Canary restaurant. With hard work, a lot of determination, preparation and a little luck, our products began to achieve popularity, demand and even acclaim.  Today we have the support of nearly 90 food-passionate team members. Both the Cheese Shop and Fat Canary were recognized in the June 7, 2009 Travel Section of the New York Times.

They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Our sister Cathy started working full time in the family business right after college graduation. She oversees all of the cheese and wine buying, and she is the General Manager of the operation. Our brother Tom returned to be the Executive Chef at the Fat Canary after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park followed by an 18-year trek to many of the greatest kitchens throughout America. Our sister Mary Ellen came home after years out of the state to apply her expertise in sales, marketing, specialty food buying and merchandising. Mom and Dad are still very involved in the business. It's quite unique and truly wonderful that we are all able to work together again to perfect the original values our parents that began in 1971: exceptional products and customer service, attention to detail, and a passion for what we do.

Cathy Power Pattisall

Thomas Power, Jr.

Mary Ellen Power Rogers