The mere mention of Bandon once conjured an image of cheese. The Bandon Cheese Factory on Highway 101 was a regional landmark, a tourist mainstay and a point of pride for the town. That all ended a decade ago when the old factory changed hands and was eventually demolished.
Now, thanks to a partnership between the city and private investors, Face Rock Creamery has risen on the site of the original cheese factory. Paying homage to the town’s heritage and a tradition that dates to the 1800s, Face Rock Creamery marks Bandon’s continuing commitment to artisan cheese.
Greg Drobot, president of Face Rock Creamery, says he’s thrilled to bring quality cheesemaking back to Bandon. “When you combine the highest quality milk and the best cheese maker in the country, you have a fantastic product.”
The creamery, which takes its name from the iconic offshore sea stack, sources milk from the Scolari Family Dairy in nearby Coquille to make 10 varieties of cheese, including Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar, Face Rock’n Jack, fromage blanc and cheese curds.
Head cheesemaker Brad Sinko adds another layer of tradition to the story. Sinko was introduced to cheese at the old Bandon Cheese Factory, which his father once ran. After honing his skills at the acclaimed Beecher’s Handmade Cheese at Seattle’s Pike Place Market and overseeing the creation of numerous award-winning cheeses, Sinko jumped at the chance to return to Bandon.
Inside the 6,000-square-foot facility, large windows give visitors a view of cheesemaking from start to finish while they nibble tasty samples. “Most people have no clue how cheese is made. It’s really fun to show them and then they can taste the final product,” says Drobot.
The staff at the beer and wine bar will happily recommend cheese pairings. Head to the mezzanine level with a drink and a cheese plate to enjoy views of the Coquille River, the jetty and the Coquille River Lighthouse.
Visit Monday through Saturday 10 .m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photo credit: Brian Kimmel