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Newcastle Cheese Shop Sign

Newcastle Cheese Shop (Newcastle, CA)


Newcastle has a secret handshake. If you want to learn it, just come into town. Anyone you run into will tell you about it. Newcastle is one of those towns that's everyone's little town, no matter where they live. For those who live in the beautiful Rocklin community, Newcastle is just a short ride up interstate 80 or, better yet, a scenic drive on one of several back roads connecting the two towns.  For such a small town, it's impressive that this little town can be home to more than one establishment that's reputed to be "the best of" in its class. In fact, a person can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner in three different eateries that draw people from miles around. While one is a relatively young establishment, North Fork Chai Company, the other two have been around a long time. La Fornaretta Newcastle draws people from neighboring towns because of its excellent Sicilian-style food. But no other Newcastle eatery has been around as long as the infamous Newcastle Cheese Shop. It’s a Newcastle institution that’s hugely popular is the key to the town’s secret handshake. You see, we don’t say we’re going to eat at Newcastle Cheese Shop; we say we're going for a rat trap. How's that for a secret handshake?

Newcastle Cheese Shop, Newcastle, CA

What’s In a Rat Trap?

Well, that’s a loaded question (yes, pun intended). If you’re a regular of Newcastle Cheese Shop, you’ll know that it’s loaded with great things like fresh greens, tons of high-quality meat, more cheese than you think a sandwich holds, lots of delicious condiments all on the freshest bread possible. Now I can't tell you when a rat trap and Newcastle Cheese Shop became interchangeable, but it's been long enough that none of us can remember. I can remember many things about Newcastle Cheese Shop because I've had the honor of watching it grow over the years. Back in 1980, Newcastle had a meat shop owned and run by a lovely couple named Keith and Candy Hopkinson. Keith's family goes way back in this area, so when he and Candy decided to sell meat along with the other butcher services Keith provided, they were instantly busy. While they sold sandwiches, the main business was meat processing and meat sales. 

In 1997, a space came available not just down the packing sheds from their current spot, so they decided to move into it and specialize in selling cheese rather than focus on the butcher business or make sandwiches.  One day a cheese customer asked for a sandwich, but Candy said they had nothing to make it with other than cheese, so she told the customer, "listen, go and get some bread, bring it back here, and I'll make you a sandwich." The next thing she knew, word got out about her sandwiches, and the rest is Newcastle Cheese Shop history. Because Keith and Candy are gregarious sorts, they decided to call the sandwich of the day "the Rat Trap." Over the years, the Rat Trap is often the name locals call the Newcastle Cheese Shop even when not buying the special of the day.

Change of Ownership but Not Change of Heart

If you’ve observed the phenomenon that sometimes happens when ownership changes but the spirit of the business doesn’t, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. As a family-owned and run business, Newcastle Cheese Shop was initially owned by one of the kindest, most humble families I've ever met. There isn't anyone who came through their shop's front door that didn't feel like Keith and Candy weren't their close friends. After running the business for years, they decided it was time to sell. While the Hopkinsons no longer own Newcastle Cheese Shop, all the things that made it a huge hit remain the same.

Newcastle Cheese Shop is enchanting! The shop is still located exactly where it's been for decades and, under the current ownership, is still run by someone warm, kind, humble, and fun! The current owner, Tad, is the type of person you want for a best friend.  As you walk through the door, you’ll see evidence of the love that Tad, like the Hopkinsons, has for his community. While indoor and outdoor seating is available, you’ll have a hard time finding a place to sit if you wait until noon to get there. Newcastle Cheese Shop regulars aren’t just local residents; people from as far as Roseville come up to lunch on a Rat Trap. Several regulars are people who work together and take turns coming up every week to pick up sandwiches for the whole crew. But Newcastle Cheese Shop is more than about sandwiches. Other offerings make this place truly special.

Newcastle Cheese Shop, Newcastle, CA

You Never Know

One of the things I find makes Newcastle Cheese Shop special is that there's an ease to how things happen. It's more than just casual; it's comfortable. For example, the cheese quality has remained excellent, and some types are offered only at certain times of the year. If you come in and don't see what you'd hope to find, you can take your time to find a suitable substitution because you'll be offered several samples of what might be similar to the cheese you'd hoped for. There's no hurry whether you're the only one there or there's a line out the door. You can order the Rat Trap of the day or create your own sandwich with every detail tailored to your liking. While the variety of cheese sometimes changes, and the sides might include something made just for the season, the thing that never changes is what brings people back from near and far.

From its earliest days, Newcastle Cheese Shop has always been known for the freshness of ingredients and the amount of meat, cheese, and produce that goes into every sandwich. Recall that the original owners were in the butcher business. They were adamant that only the freshest of meat would be used in the sandwiches. That standard hasn’t changed. Remember that the original owners’ had the intention of being just a cheese shop, so the quality of the cheese was very high. After all, it was the only thing they were going to sell. Well, that same standard for cheese also hasn't changed.  The sandwich rolls are freshly made at a local bakery, and the produce is as fresh as the bread. Newcastle Cheese Shop has always been known for putting the most cheese, meat, and produce on sandwiches than found anywhere else. If you're not in the mood for a sandwich, you can order The Big Salad, which is made of all the same abundance and freshness that goes into the sandwiches, minus the bread, of course.  Accompanying all this freshness is an eclectic selection of soda or, as we used to say in the early days of Newcastle Cheese Shop, "pop". Whether you come for the sandwich, a salad, or maybe get lucky and catch it on a day when there's a homemade pot of chili, what you'll always come away with is a very full stomach and a very warm heart. As it's been for decades, Newcastle Cheese Shop is a special place to eat. To quote Candy Hopkinson, "this place is more of a happening than just a place to eat." That's never changed.

Stanford Ranch Self Storage

There's no doubt that Newcastle Cheese Shop is a beloved place to many people. As your neighborhood self-storage facility, Stanford Ranch Self Storage proudly shares what we know about it, and other beloved businesses. We're honored to be part of the Rocklin community and honored to share what we learn about our neighboring towns. We often learn about places like Newcastle Cheese Shop from our valued customers and fellow community members. Please visit us at Stanford Ranch Self Storage and tell us about your most beloved business. We'd love to see you and will be honored to share what we learn from you. See you soon!

Newcastle Cheese Shop
455 Main Street
Newcastle, CA 95658
Telephone: 916-663-3704
Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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