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BANDON CHEESEMAKING HISTORY
Bullet WHY CHEESE IN BANDON
Bullet HISTORY OF FACE ROCK CREAMERY

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BANDON CHEESEMAKING HISTORY

Bandon Oregon has cheese in its DNA, and has been home to cheese making since the 1800’s.  During the 1880’s there were 10 large cheese makers in the area, and many more small Farmstead producers. In 1914, the first of two major Bandon, Oregon fires burned down much of the town’s architecture.  Loving Bandon, many people stayed and rebuilt the town, cheese making also continued as a large and expected aspect of the community.  Cheese making in Bandon has extensively followed the hand-made artisan style of cheese making.

In 1936, another fire, sadly excited by the gorse, brought to the area by some of the original pioneers, burned the town of Bandon again.  Gorse is an intense “briar-ed” bush that holds an exuberant amount of oil.  The flames from gorse fires are extremely hot and hard to extinguish. 

After the last “town fire” of '36 cheese making again was restarted.  This time around, only one cheese maker rebuilt, and the cheese making building was erected along what is now hwy 101 and set next to 3rd street.  Through the years, the building was added onto and became known as the Bandon Cheese Factory.  Both residents and visitors alike toured the factory regularly and took advantage of the hand-made artisan style of making cheese.

In the year 2000, another, but larger, cheese maker purchased the Bandon Cheese Factory and within just a short time, shut the factory down and demolished the building and left the site as an eyesore at the north entrance to the town of Bandon.  This was a sad and upsetting day to Bandon residents and tourists alike.  Many people today still ask: “Where is the cheese factory?” “What happened to the cheese factory?”  Or, “Why in the world did that happen?”…when being told that the cheese factory in Bandon was torn down.

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WHY CHEESE IN BANDON?

Great cheese begins with great milk.  Bandon is located on the Southern Oregon Coast, in the “Banana Belt” of Oregon, which provides a warm and temperate climate all year round.  This is great weather for growing grass, and raising cows!  Just inland to the East of Bandon is the lush and fertile Coquille River Valley.  This valley has been producing milk for hundreds of years and has been recognized by many experts as some of the richest dairy land in the Country.  The Valley is defined by the meandering Coquille River, which moves slowly through the valley, depositing minerals and nutrients in the soil.  It is this river that gives the Valley its unique character and terroir.  Terroir is used to describe the flavor of a particular land, area, and climate, unique to itself.  According to our cheesemaker Brad Sinko, who has been making cheese in the area for over 20 years, milk and thus cheese from the Coquille area has a unique taste, and is instantly distinguishable flavor, making it recognizable among all other dairy areas.

Bandon is located at the mouth of the Coquille River, where the nutrient rich water terminates into the Pacific Ocean.  Before roads, boats would carry milk from the valley out to Bandon for processing.  Once the cheese was made and aged, it was then sent all around the country from of the Port of Bandon.  Roads are now in place, and trucks have replaced boats, but the same basic milk and cheese system continues to flourish with Face Rock Creamery.

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HISTORY OF FACE ROCK CREAMERY

In 2011, missing its Cheese Factory, and tired of seeing the eyesore that was the vacant lot of the demolished Factory, the City of Bandon started negotiations with the (then) owner of the old cheese factory property and was able to purchase the land and bring it back into local ownership.

Once the property was back in the City’s hands, the idea that a cheese factory might come back to Bandon was buzzing.  Face Rock Creamery had the same dream in mind and the timing was perfect. Face Rock Creamery began its due diligence process and acquired the details of what it would take to build and re-open a cheese making and cheese exporting business in Bandon. 

Working directly with Matt Winkel (the city manager) and the City council, Greg Drobot and Daniel Graham were able to establish a method for rebuilding.  Utilizing the Urban Renewal agency, the city would build the “grounds structure” which would also facilitate (possible) future businesses and the Cheese makers would build the business (including the building) to accompany that.  This partnership has made it possible for the cheese factory to return to Bandon.  The State of Oregon has applauded these efforts as it gave the "League of Oregon Cities Award for Excellence;" mainly citing these cooperative efforts.

As the developers build, they are utilizing local staff wherever possible.  The community involvement with the building and operation of the finished factory is extremely high.  The people of Bandon are elated for the cheese factory and its new beginnings.  Face Rock Creamery Cheeses can now be found in many grocery stores and restaurant menus as well, and its popularity is growing.  Come and experience the difference!  The name of the factory is Face Rock Creamery; write it down, tell your friends.  Let's continue to support Bandon together!

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Click Here to learn more about the History of Cheesemaking in Bandon

 

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Face Rock Creamery     Hwy 101     Bandon, Oregon     97411     541.347.FACE  (3223)

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