Toward the rear of Putnam Market sits a glass-enclosed room that co-owner Cathy Hamilton says was built to bring people together.
“I call it a 'Cheese Disneyland,' ” Hamilton joked. “It’s just a place to come in and have fun.”
The Cheese Room, as it’s officially known, offers products both from around the globe and from the market’s own backyard in upstate New York.
“It’s the thing that makes people remember Putnam Market,” Hamliton said. “We get cheese deliveries every single week, so it’s constantly churning.”
What You Need To Know
- Last month, the London Financial Times ranked Putnam Market in Saratoga Springs one of the top 50 greatest food stores in the world
- For the past 26 years, the market on Broadway has been run by sisters Cathy Hamilton and Gloria Griskowitz
- Featuring a cheese room with local and international products, the market specializes in items that are hard to find at other local stores
Likely Putnam’s most well-known feature, the room was added in 2012, about 15 years after Hamilton and her sister, Gloria Griskowitz, opened the market.
“The idea of us moving here and starting this business was A) to get connected to a community and B) be part of feeding people,” Hamilton said. “What we’re doing is kind of a fundamental part of leading a good and happy life.”
Griskowitz says there’s more to love here than just cheese. Every product they make and sell is carefully chosen.
“Customers want something that tastes delicious and is unique, and that is really important throughout our whole store,” Griskowitz said. “If we put out the same exact thing every single day, they get bored.”
“I just think we want to be the best, so we want to put the best out there for our town,” employee Rayna Scott said.
Having crafted sandwiches and salads here for the past five years, Scott is one of Putnam Market’s more seasoned employees.
“The best part of working here is the people I work with and our customers,” Scott said. “We have great customers that come in. We have regulars and I know all of their families, and they’ve become like our family here.”
As she prepared a half-dozen salads during her first day on the job, Maureen McAuliffe said she was thrilled to be the newest member of the team.
“I feel really lucky to be able to jump in here,” McAuliffe said. “Putnam is the first place I came to when I moved here five years ago, so it is kind of cool to be working here now.”
Sylvia Kuang started just six months ago, but is already a pro at baking biscotti.
“We send these out and people love it, and that brings us a lot of joy and pride,” Kuang said.
Their approach has been rewarded with a loyal customer base. “I happen to live and work here in Saratoga Springs, so I’m here just about every day,” Jonathan DalPos said while he waited for his sandwich order.
“We come at least every week,” customer Nick Adie said. “The variety and the wine shop next door is awesome.”
Along with being beloved by locals, the market is now receiving international acclaim. Last month, the London Financial Times named Putnam Market one of the top 50 greatest food stores in the world.
“It was actually mind-boggling. It was very exciting and incredibly flattering to be considered among the best of the best,” Griskowitz said.
“I was honestly surprised to be one of the 50 greatest, but also, we like to think we’ve created something really fun here in the Capital Region,” Hamilton said.
Unlike the sisters, the customers and staff seem less shocked by the honor.
“I’m definitely not surprised,” said Laura Mullen, who was enjoying lunch with Adie. “I think their sandwiches are the best in town, and I love that a local business is doing so well.”
“We’ve been around this town for so long and we’ve done so well for so long that it didn’t come as a surprise at all,” Kuang said.
Griskowitz and Hamilton admit the recognition is nice, but say true satisfaction comes from the relationships they’ve built over the past quarter century of running the business.
“It is really fun. I have to say it is an adventure for us,” Griskowitz said. “It is exciting; it is fresh.”
“That was what we were looking for when we originally came here and started this business, was a place to settle down and become part of the community, and we’ve become successful in doing that,” Hamilton said.