Date: April 4, 2023

This Cheese is Nuts!

SriMu moves dairy-free cheese company from L.A. to Crosstown Concourse.

A cheese company is opening in Crosstown Concourse, but the artisan wheels are made from nuts, not dairy. 

SriMu owner Julie Piatt makes aged, plant-based cheeses using live cultures, cashews, almonds, and other natural ingredients. The flavors are inspired by traditional dairy cheeses, like brie, gouda, pepper jack, and gorgonzola.

“SriMu is universal. It’s plant-based, paleo, keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, and raw. There’s no ‘ism.’ Even if you’re a meat eater, you will love SriMu,” Piatt said. 

SriMu’s new 3,600-square-foot Concourse space is on the first floor near Farm Burger and the red, spiral staircase, and it will serve as both a production facility for SriMu and a cafe serving vegan charcuterie, wine and kombucha.

“We’ll be doing these beautiful boards. We’ll plate them with herbs and crackers, and you can come with a couple of friends and enjoy a board together,” Piatt said. 

The cafe will also offer grab-and-go charcuterie for events and wheels or jars of SriMu cheese to take home.

Piatt founded SriMu in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband Rich Roll, in 2019. The recipes for SriMu (the name means “sacred cow”) were born out of years of experimenting with plant-based recipes to help fuel Roll’s ultra-endurance training. At age 40, Roll (who now hosts The Rich Roll Podcast, with over 200 million downloads) was struggling with alcoholism and looking for a way to turn his life around. He decided to go vegan and run five Ironman-distance triathlons on five Hawaii islands in seven days. 

“I began making plant-based meals, so when he would come back from his very intense training, there would be this feast,” Piatt said

She wasn’t plant-based at the time, but as she experimented with new recipes, she decided to go vegan as well. 

“My body just felt more healthy, and I felt more aligned vibrationally. And I loved cooking as a plant-based chef,” Piatt said. 

Over the years, Piatt and Roll have written three cookbooks together (Jai Seed,Plant Power Way, and Plant Power Way Italia), and Piatt also wrote a cookbook of plant-based cheese recipes called This Cheese Is Nuts.

“When I made those cheese recipes, I couldn’t even get the plate from the kitchen onto the table before everyone had devoured everything. I thought to myself, there is something very important to be cracked in this plant-based cheese,” Piatt said.

Those cheese recipes became the foundation for SriMu. The company is based on a subscription model; the wheels of cheese are not available in grocery stores. And that’s part of the reason Piatt chose to relocate SriMu from L.A. to Memphis. Because SriMu is a perishable product, the recommended two-day shipping to the East Coast presented a challenge. 

One of SriMu’s investors, Tom Lawrence, lives part-time in Memphis and part-time in Telluride, and he suggested that Piatt consider Memphis.

“[Tom and his wife Ellie Bennet] said, Julie, you should come to Memphis and connect with FedEx,” Piatt said.

Piatt visited the city, and Cushman & Wakefield principal Kemp Conrad showed her a few options for possible future SriMu facilities, including Crosstown Concourse. 

“Walking into Crosstown reignited the fact that I’m an artist, and my daughter is a painter,” Piatt said. “I raise my kids in home schooling, and  … there’s a new thought high school on the fourth floor. I’m recording my third record, and I’m looking for a studio and a producer, and I walked into Matt [Ross-Spang’s Southern Groove] studio.”

Crosstown Redevelopment Cooperative President Todd Richardson said SriMu couldn’t be better aligned “with Crosstown’s values of discovery, creativity, wellness, and being ‘better together.’”

 “Julie Piatt and her amazing team are creating a dynamic space for the production, packaging, and distribution of their delicious, plant-based, artisanal cheeses, all of which will be shared with the public in unique ways,” said Richardson. “We are very excited to welcome SriMu to the Crosstown creative mix, where the production and distribution of cheese, gelato, coffee, music, and more all happen side by side. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to say that a great company prefers Memphis over L.A.”

Piatt is currently hiring what she calls “sacred makers,” the chefs who will make the cheese, and she’s looking for people to fill management positions. She says SriMu will make its last shipment from L.A. in time for Easter and Passover, and then she’ll be moving all operations into the new Memphis facility. She hopes to begin shipping from Concourse in May and expects the cafe to open later in the summer.

“I think we’re in a very potent and profound time on planet Earth, and I think there’s a whole bunch of beautiful expansion that’s waiting to happen in Memphis,” Piatt said. “I feel so blessed to have been received here and to have this amazing production facility and cafe that we’re stepping into. I’m here for all the beauty we’ll create together.”


1350 CONCOURSE AVE • MEMPHIS, TN • 38104 • 901.203.8300