There’s a shipment of hot sauce on its way to Williamsburg from Angola Prison in Louisiana. Alana Campbell discovered the fiery tobacco-style sauce made by the inmates while filming a television show about the prison in 2011. Now, she and her sister, Erin, will be selling it at Campbell Cheese and Grocery, officially opening on Monday.
The Campbell sisters grew up on Florida’s panhandle, moving to Williamsburg 13 and nine years ago respectively, so the hot sauce won’t be the only made-below-the-Mason-Dixon item on the shelves of this corner shop and sandwich spot. There’s tea grown in Charleston, Bloody Mary mix concocted in Arkansas, and pickles driven in from Florida’s Red Bay Grocery by the Campbells’ parents.
Since moving north, the sisters kept one eye on their dream of opening a business together and another on the storefront on the corner of Lorimer and Powers, near Erin’s apartment.
When the space opened up in December, they pounced and have spent the intervening months sourcing breads, olive oils, chocolates, and cheeses (not a bad gig).
In addition to brands reflecting their Southern roots, there are locally-made items like jams and honey made by artist-farmer Peter Nadin of Old Field Farm, a selection of seasonal produce, and cheeses made upstate.
From behind the robust cheese and charcuterie counter come thoughtful sandwiches and salads like a slightly sour Danish Havarti grilled cheese with housemade Romesco sauce, and a buttermilk bacon salad using slabs of Benton’s.
During this week’s soft opening, the shop’s fresh mozzarella is showing early signs of cult status. Supplied by a tiny operation from the Bronx run by Mary Ellen and Joe Devito, the homemade, warm, creamy cheese will be delivered (by Joe himself) on Tuesdays and Fridays and is likely to sell out before the store closes.
“We felt like this is what the neighborhood needed,” said Alana, of the slightly sleepy, traditionally Italian stretch of Lorimer. The sisters were careful to seek the approval of life-long neighborhood residents who gave the mozzarella a hearty thumbs up.
They even dug up the tax photo of the storefront from the 1930s and were surprised to find it was a salumeria and grocery back then.
“It’s like coming full circle,” said Alana.
Campbell Cheese and Grocery, 502 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-387-2267.