The Tillamook Cheese Factory announced on March 5, 2017 it was closing its tasting center for good to embark upon a demolition plan to rebuild the facility from scratch.
In October 2017, the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA), the operator of the factory, publicly released plans to open a new 42,800-square-foot facility at the same location where the original 38,500-square-foot visitors’ center stood.
The tasting room was a favorite stop for tourists and consumers of Tillamook cheese on the Oregon coast for many generations. The facility still attracts more than 1.3 million visitors annually — as many as 10,000 each day — according to a June 28, 2018 press release, and the TCCA anticipates the new tasting room will significantly increase the number of curious people who stop by each year.
“This new facility brings to life the TCCA’s story, from our vital history as a farmer-owned co-op to our modern-day commitment to dairy done right,” TCCA President and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Criteser said. “The project also represents a significant investment in our local presence here in Tillamook County and one that we anticipate will attract even more visitors to the area.”
The larger, new facility showcases Tillamook as a world-class dairy brand and enables the TCCA to better accommodate the increasing number of annual guests it welcomes, allowing for more people to visit the tasting rooms and to take a tour that showcases how its milk, ice cream, sour cream, and cheeses are made.
Alan Maskin, exhibit design principal for Olson Kundig, the architectural firm that designed the new facility, said the new building provides an opportunity for visitors to make a connection between the food on their plates and the story behind how it is made.
“It was a chance to tell previously untold stories of Tillamook’s 109-year-old history — the creamery, its cows, its farmer-owners, and the high-quality products they produce,” Maskin said.
Features of the newly-opened facility include:
- An expanded ice cream counter that provides services indoors and outdoors, depending on the season — visitors can sample several specialty ice cream sundaes, shakes, and floats, as well as every flavor of ice cream Tillamook produces.
- A new coffee and yogurt bar for visitors to purchase their favorite pick-me-up beverage and to customize their preferred Tillamook yogurt with several varieties of toppings.
- A retail market that features a wide swath of Tillamook-brand products and apparel, including specialty food items.
- A viewing experience of the cheese manufacturing, production and packaging process with enhanced acoustics and exhibit signage, including a small theater allowing visitors to watch short videos demonstrating how Tillamook makes each of its products.
- A detailed farming exhibit that educates the public about cows, historical and modern dairy technology, and depictions of life on a dairy farm.
Shannon Lourenzo, TCCA’s executive board chairman and farmer-owner, said it’s exciting to see the project, in the works for more than six years, finally come to life and open to the public, and that there will be more samples to taste than in the past.
“Generations of dairy farmers are proud to call Tillamook home and now we’re thrilled to be able to invite even more Tillamook supporters into our home and better educate them about dairy farming and what makes our co-op so special,” Lourenzo said. “We’re excited to share this new facility with many future generations of Tillamook fans and we hope they all will love it as much as we do.”
The new Tillamook Creamery opens daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during summer months until Labor Day, which this year falls on Sunday, September 2, and then from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the off-season, Sept. 3 through mid-June.
The creamery, originally founded as a farmer-owned co-op in 1909, is guided by a belief that everyone deserves “real food” and to bring to market “the most consistent, best-tasting, highest-quality, natural-made dairy products,” the press release states.
The TCCA currently consists of nearly 90 farming families, most of which are based in Tillamook County. The association operates production facilities in Tillamook and Boardman, with about 900 employees located throughout Oregon. The creamery is the largest tourist attraction on the Oregon coast and one of the most popular in the state, the TCCA says.
Visitors are encouraged to visit the company’s website at www.Tillamook.com for additional information about hours of operation, menu offerings, gift shop items and more.