A cheese-lover with a creative heart set her sights on an idea to bring custom-curated charcuterie boards to the shores of Virginia Beach. Owner and Chief of Grazing Katie Eckhardt started Long Board Charcuterie around the notion of gathering and celebrating with family and friends. “There is always an excuse to have a charcuterie board, and I want to create it for you,” she exclaims.
Conversation flowed over a glass of wine as Katie shared the moments that led to launching Long Board Charcuterie in January 2020.
How It All Began
After graduating from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Katie swapped shorelines in a move to Virginia with her fiancé. A Marketing Director at a radiology software company by day, Katie began channeling her creativity by curating homemade charcuterie boards for her close network. “This is a fun creative outlet for me; I love putting [boards] together for friends and family. I kept practicing and practicing and soon became better at it. I realized, wait I have a knack for this!” Katie explains.
A beach girl at heart, the name Long Board Charcuterie (LBC) came to her one day as inspired by the coastal vibe she grew up on. “[The beach] holds a special place in my heart. When I moved up here, I wanted to play into the things that make me happy,” she says. She built her brand around that. She worked with a friend, Oak City Lettering, on design work for LBC to create a logo and playful taglines, including “It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy” and “Eat Cheese, Be Happy.” A couple of mantras we can get behind.
New to town and with an urge to give it a shot, Katie developed a website and social channels to see where things would go. “I thought, worse comes to worse, I will sell three boards. Honestly, I did not have extremely high hopes for it. I did not have connections in the area but thought it would be a great way to meet people,” Katie says. Then business took off unexpectedly and in the middle of a global pandemic no less. She continues, “Social media blew it out of the water. Referrals and return customers are my biggest generators.”
The Long Board Charcuterie Experience
Be it a date night or a hang out session with friends, Long Board Charcuterie curates the perfect meat and cheese boards to satisfy the hungriest appetites. Find the board for your occasion and build it with your favorite accouterments. Once your order is placed (a solely online business at present), Katie will handcraft each one based on customer preferences. She explains, “My goal is to give you something you will really enjoy, so I frame it around you and play into the season.”
LBC offers a variety of boards designed by party size, including the Chicks Beach (feeds 3-4 people), Shore Drive (feeds 5-7 people), North End (feeds 8-12 people) and Boardwalk (feeds 15-20 people). Hoping to feed a bigger group? She caters to all party sizes and will customize something just for you.
If you are more of a charcuterie novice, she will have just the board for you too. “Let’s start slow and mild. I will build a board with easy pairings allowing you to mix it up and sample different flavors,” Katie says. Ultimately, she wants each experience to be approachable, positive and unique. As for Katie’s favorites? “Man, I love brie. It transitions with the seasons well and you can have it savory or sweet. In the fall, I go for smoked gouda with a good cabernet sauvignon.”
Host a Long Board Charcuterie workshop with your favorite people, where each person will assemble their own 9×9 meat and cheese board. “Workshops are so much fun because it gives everyone the ability to make [a board],” Katie says. She will arrive at your home or location of choice with the deliciousness in tow. Taking about 30 minutes to set up, she will present a full spread of items to pick from and share the strategies and tips behind crafting a board.
“We will chat about the what and why of assembling and pairing your board. We have so much fun sharing and learning together. I am always happy to answer questions and be there as long as you need me,” Katie shares.
The workshops were inspired to create moments, big or small. “There is always an occasion to celebrate. I am grateful I get to be a small part of it by giving them the tools to do so.”
Proudest Moment & Biggest Obstacle
With a face expressing so much to be grateful for, Katie explains how shocked and honored she has felt by the community’s support. “For someone who is not from here, it has been so special to feel the community rally around me,” she explains.
She pauses and also mentions the R&A Business Spotlight is a proud moment. “I did not expect [LBC] to be anything more than a fun outlet and it has become a business that I love and can support myself on.” She continues, “[the business] has become a way for me to plant roots in the community and has made Virginia Beach feel like home.”
Flip the coin and the biggest challenge has been growing so quickly. Katie explains, “Sourcing materials as I have grown when I wasn’t expecting to was difficult but it was also the coolest part — figuring it out as I went.”
Advice for Aspiring Business Owners
While new to the entrepreneurial scene, Katie has wise words to share. “Don’t be afraid to be wrong. There are going to be times when you thought something was the best idea and then you execute and realize ‘eh, not so much.’” She elaborates, “You cannot let your pride get in the way. Criticism and feedback about your business is not a direct reflection of you as a person. Don’t take it personally or you will never grow.”
Future Goals + Happenings
Exciting developments are in the works for LBC! Katie is going to begin sourcing board items from local farms as well as partnering with family members on produce and meats. “My brother is a butcher in Madison, Wisconsin, and we are exploring the idea of sourcing meats from there. And, my fiancé’s family has a dairy farm in Lexington, Virginia where we will get cheese and honey from soon.” She smiles and says, “I love that I am able to keep it in the family.”
How to Experience All That Long Board Charcuterie Has to Offer
It’s time to get cheesy! Visit Long Board Charcuterie’s website to check out the menu and place an order online. During check out, you can choose your delivery or pick-up day and time. Katie also welcomes general inquiries through the website form if you have any questions or wish to schedule a workshop. Hit follow on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on new offerings.
Great Job Kid
Thank you for capturing her true personality. She is amazing !
We are glad you enjoyed the read! It was a joy getting to know Katie and share her story.