"The Cheese Board opened in 1967, when revolution was in the air, in the slip of a space that now houses The Juice Bar Collective. On the first day of business, original owners Sahag and Elizabeth Avedisian grossed less than a hundred bucks after an initial investment of just a few hundred dollars on cheese. The couple began selling a selection of high-quality cheeses in stark contrast to the massive orange blocks wrapped in plastic that passed for American cheese then.
How times have changed. And we’re not just referring to the fact that worker-owners no longer streak naked across the median strip (as they did, legend has it, “back in the day.”) Today, the store sells 300 to 400 goat, sheep, and cow milk cheeses from all over the world, including many artisan American offerings. The store also sells its trademark sourdough baguette and baked goods, such as scones, muffins, cookies, and chocolate things, as well as focaccia, rolls, challah, and other breads.
The Avedisians, who had worked on a kibbutz in Israel, wanted to run a democratic shop where all the workers were owners and shared the wealth. So in 1971 the couple converted the business to a collective, bringing their six employees into the fold as equal partners. To this day, a new employee earns the same hourly pay as one who has been with the cooperative since the beginning. Elizabeth Avedisian, now in her 80s, still does two shifts a week at the store, without fanfare. Her ex-husband Sahag, who left the collective and the Bay Area years ago, passed away in 2007.