BANDON — It started as what might have seemed a risky venture with little payoff, but one year later has “success” written all over.
Face Rock Creamery will commemorate its one-year anniversary May 10 and 11 and a big celebration is planned. There will be live music, walk-in specials, $1 beer, $2 burgers, door prizes, samples and, of course, lots of cheese.
“Mother’s Day was our biggest day last year,” said FRC vice president Daniel Graham.
A lot has happened in the year since the new factory opened on the same site as the former Bandon Cheese Factory. The creamery at first offered mainly fresh cheese curds, jack cheese and its signature Grand Opening Cheddar, as well as locally sourced retail items and generous scoops of Umpqua ice cream.
Now the cheese has had time to age and there are significantly more products — and markets.
Face Rock Creamery cheese is distributed to almost 300 outlets throughout five states, including Fred Meyer stores, New Seasons Markets, Market of Choice, Harry and David and dozens of independent stores, markets and restaurants.
Face Rock Creamery also sells at the Eugene Saturday Market and will soon be offering its product at the Coos Bay farmers market, as well as several special events this summer, including the Cape Blanco Country Music Festival in August.
Owner Greg Drobot has personally introduced the cheeses created by master cheese maker Brad Sinko to many new venues, offering samples and discussing the product.
Face Rock offers butter; aged and now 10 flavors of cheddar; plain and flavored cheese curds; several flavors of fromage blanc — a creamy, spreadable cheese; and Monterey jack. The creamery has produced some specialty cheeses, such as Swiss, but because it’s made in limited quantities, Sinko can barely keep up with demand.
In fact, that seems to be a regular theme these days.
“We have more people who want our cheese than we can produce,” Graham said.
It’s not a bad problem to have, said Drobot.
He hopes to expand the factory’s cold storage and has already leased another building to store and age cheese. Another warehouse location is being sought as well.
The creamery employs 16 people full-time, and several more seasonally. At top capacity, in possibly two or three more years, the creamery will employ up to 40 people.
That doesn’t even include the related jobs, from dairy farmers at Milk-E-Way, to distributors, packaging providers, printers, spin-off suppliers of branded clothing and gifts, and restaurants, where chefs create a value-added product.
In addition, many local products are sold at the creamery, giving those business owners a boost.
So what has made Face Rock Creamery such a success story?
“It’s our customers and a lot of support,” Drobot said. “People are buying our product in grocery stores. We’re selling a lot, even wholesale.”
Graham added that Bandon’s deep tradition of cheesemaking also has driven the creamery’s success.
“It’s the history of cheesemaking in Bandon and having Brad back as such a great head cheesemaker who really knows what he’s doing,” Graham said.
Drobot is grateful for the community’s support and he enjoys giving back, including donating to local fundraisers and sponsoring half of this year’s Fourth of July fireworks display.
“We’ve grown beyond our expectations and that has a lot to do with the support of the local community, which is who we’re having this party for,” Drobot said.
“We thank the community for making our first year a success.”
For more information on Face Rock Creamery, including other articles, cheese flavors and mail orders, visit www.facerockcreamery.com.