Cheesemaking Returns To Bandon Area With Face Rock Creamery Grand Opening
Bandon, OR—Locals arrived here in force Wednesday for the grand opening of Face Rock Creamery, LLC, and the return of cheesemaking to the Bandon area.
The Face Rock team officially opened its doors to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony, with lines of customers and well-wishers
streaming out the creamery door all afternoon.
Bandon has been home to cheesemaking since the 1880s; Face Rock Creamery stands in the heart of Bandon’s historic industrial Woolen Mill District, on land claimed by the city especially for cheese production.
The new Face Rock Creamery held its official grand opening here Wednesday in Bandon, OR. From left: Mike Claassen, Bandon City Council; Geri Procetto, Bandon City Council; Bart Stein, president, Bandon Chamber of Commerce; front: Mary Schamehorn, Bandon mayor; Daniel Graham, Face Rock Creamery vice president; Greg Drobot, Face Rock Creamery president; Nancy Drew, Bandon City Council; and Matt Winkel, Bandon city manager.
Face Rock Creamery owner Greg Drobot hired the consulting expertise of Joe Sinko, former owner of the Bandon Cheese Factory and an expert cheese maker, for advice on how to set up the new factory, including what type of cheese varieties to offer.
Drobot and his partners chose to produce traditional handmade Cheddar as tribute to Bandon’s cheesemaking heritage.
Face Rock Creamery earned Oregon Department of Agriculture approval April 18, and head cheese maker Brad Sinko, son of Joe and former head cheese maker at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Seattle, produced the first batch of Face Rock cheese curds for a Bandon Rotary club fund-raising event April 20.
“Face Rock Creamery is a special addition to the Bandon business community,” said Bandon Chamber of Commerce CEO Julie Miller.
“Watching the first milk delivery to the creamery last week was exciting.
The Face Rock team is already making cheese, and that’s a product that we’re thrilled to have people identify with Bandon,” Miller continued.
Over 100 Years Of Cheesemaking
Over 100 years ago, the Bandon area was home to about 10 cheese factories. In 1914, the first of two major fires burned down much of the Bandon architecture, but people worked to rebuild the town, including the cheese factory.
In 1936, another fire burned through the town, and the cheese factory was rebuilt along highway 101. Through the years, the building was remodeled and became known as the Bandon Cheese.
In 2000, the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) purchased the Bandon Cheese Factory and within two years, shut the factory down. TCCA continued to operate a retail store at the location until 2005, when it was also closed and the remaining employees laid off.
Over a decade later, the city of Bandon was able to purchase what remained over the factory, which is now a part of the “Woolen Mill Master Plan,” and will forever be owned by the city of Bandon.
In August 2011, the Bandon urban renewal agency paid TCCA $500,000 for the two acres of property where the Bandon cheese factory was formerly located.
Face Rock utilized its own funds and private financing, approximately $2 million, to construct and operate the cheese factory.
Under the terms of the lease, the rent will be waived by the city for Face Rock Creamery for 20 years. In lieu of rent, the tenant will pay 1 percent of any gross revenues between $1 million and $2.5 million and 2 percent of any gross revenues more than $2.5 million.
Construction on the creamery began in October 2012. The following month Brad Sinko started cheese production as a guest of Rogue Creamery in nearby Central Point, OR.
Created With Visitors In Mind
Face Rock Creamery was designed to welcome the public with floor-to-ceiling windows, open beams and a five-foot double sided fireplace with a seating area.
There is also seating in a loft area with its own fireplace that overlooks the Mercantile space below, and allows visitors to watch the cheesemaking.
Face Rock Creamery offers handmade medium, sharp and extra sharp Cheddar, along with various flavored and speciality cheeses – Monterey Jack, “In Your Face” Spicy 3-Pepper Cheddar, “Vampire Slayer” Garlic Cheddar, and for a limited time, “Grand Opening” Cheddar.
Besides cheese, the factory will sell cheese curds and Umpqua Ice Cream, which the original cheese factory also sold, along with cul-
The milk supply comes from creamery partners Bob and Leonard Scolari from Coquille Milk-E-Way Dairy in the Coquille Valley, and for now, the plant employs about 15 workers.
Single-source milk is the defining trait of Face Rock cheese, according to Sinko.
Valuing quality over quantity, Sinko said he’s convinced that the highest quality milk comes from dairy cows tended by second- and third-generation dairymen and grazed on local pasture.
Currently, Face Rock makes between 5,000 and 10,000 pounds of cheese every week. Cheese is sold on-site, but will be available through a distributor at retail locations throughout the Northwest by late summer or early fall, according to owner Greg Drobot.
“We’ve been talking with a number of distributors, and they’re pretty excited,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have enough inventory for distribution, but we plan to be in Northwest retail stores by late summer, early fall.”