Artisan Cheese Making Returns to Bandon

Situated on the former site of the Bandon Cheese Factory and employing one of its former cheese makers, Face Rock Creamery has tapped deep into this south coast community's heralded history of producing curds and whey. The 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. Bandon has been home to cheese making since the 1880s.

The new artisan creamery will produce its own handmade cheeses, curds and butter, and will retail its manufactured dairy products along with ice cream, wine, deli items and gifts. The operation expects to create 10 jobs initially and as many as 16 in three years.

Creamery Owner Greg Drobot is originally from the Seattle area, but fell in love with Bandon during a visit in 2005 and vowed to return one day. After meeting the former cheese factory's owner, Greg decided to make the dream of bringing a creamery back to Bandon a reality.

"I fell in love with the area," Drobot told The World of Coos Bay. "I think it was a dream in the rough and I knew the old cheese factory was very successful."

The $2.2 million, 8,000-square-foot manufacturing and retail facility was built with the help of a $256,000 Oregon Business Development Fund (OBDF) loan. Other financial partners included the non-profit community development financial institution Craft3, the Port of Bandon Economic Development Fund, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and the Coos Curry Douglas Development Corp.

The Port of Bandon Economic Development Fund, one of 14 intermediary lenders in Oregon, received a $1 million Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) loan from USDA Rural Development in 1995 and a $500,000 IRP loan in 2000. For this project, they lent $250,000 to Face Rock Creamery as part of a financing package for construction, the purchase of equipment and working capital. With funding sources lined up for the project, the city of Bandon then agreed to develop the property and serve as the landlord.

The new cheese factory will feature: an 18-foot "cheese trough" of samples, 12 varieties of cheeses initially along with other specialty cheeses made by other Oregon producers, and high-end cultured butter made from the whey generated during cheese making. In addition, Face Rock will serve at least 10 flavors of Umpqua Ice Cream in 7-ounce scoops.

The milk for the cheese will come exclusively from the Scolari Dairy in the nearby Coquille Valley. The dairy currently has 180 Holstein and Brown Swiss cows but has the capacity to increase that to 460 cows.