Bandon Oregon has been home to cheese making since the 1800’s. According to Eileen at the city Museum (http://www.bandonhistoricalmuseum.org) there were 10 cheese makers in the area during the 1880’s. In 1914, the first of two major Bandon, Oregon fires burned down much of the 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. It is a good thing that modern methods of fire preventative maintenance along with modern equipment are in place today.
After the last “town fire” of '36 cheese making again was started. This time 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.
In 2011, tired of seeing the eyesore, the City of Bandon started negotiations with the (then) owner of the old cheese factory property and was able to purchase it and bring it back into the hands of those concerned about the town of Bandon. This property is now a part of the “Woolen Mill Master Plan,” and should be in the city's hands in perpetuity.
Once the property was back in Bandon hands, the idea that a cheese factory could come back to Bandon was buzzing. The Face Rock developers had the same dream in mind. They began a process of acquiring 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 main one coming back into the creamery family is Brad Sinko, Daniel refers to him as the heart of the company; Greg being the head and Daniel being the backbone. Together they (with the hands and feet of course) are making Facerock Creamery). The community involvement with the building and operation of the finished factory is extremely high. The people in the city of Bandon are elated for the cheese factory and its new beginnings. Facerock Creamery Cheeses can now be found in many a grocery store or restaurant menu 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!
Click Here to learn more about the History of Cheesemaking in Bandon