Face Rock Creamery 3rd Anniversary Party

This Mother’s Day weekend, Face Rock Creamery celebrated its third anniversary with music, dancing, burgers, hot dogs, panini, local beers, ice cream, and of course, some of the best cheese around.  Several area wineries came with wine to sample, and live music included the local band Done Deal and the very talented Bandon High School jazz band.  The Oregon Coast Culinary Institute brought beautiful samples of decadent combinations of creamy cheese, creamy chocolate and craft beers.


With the third anniversary of the Face Rock Creamery’s opening also came the release of the Face Rock three-year aged cheddar.  This white cheddar is delightfully sharp and delicious and well worth the wait!


In addition to the music and food, there were activities that everyone could enjoy.  Booths included cotton candy, face painting, and a balloon artist, and Mother’s Day massages were available.



The event was combined with a fun fundraiser for the Bandon Swimming Pool whose mission it is to build and maintain an indoor pool for the south coast of Oregon for recreation, safety, therapy, competition, and promote tourism..  Going with the aquatic theme, a dunk tank was set up advertising one throw for $1, and three throws for $2.  Sarah Sinko, wife of Brad Sinko, head cheesemaker at the Face Rock Creamery, was first in the tank and taunted guests to encourage them to try to dunk her.


Face Rock Creamery is the continuation of a long-standing cheese history in Bandon.  Head cheesemaker Brad Sinko who made cheese for the Bandon Cheese Factory before its closing in 2000 has created award-winning cheeses that can be found in many western states.  The anniversary party keeps getting better and better; with their many awards and acknowledgements, Face Rock Creamery has much to celebrate.  Anyone who enjoys cheese hopes that there are many many more anniversaries to come.


Face Rock’s Anniversary Party


Friday, May 8th marked the 2nd anniversary of the opening of Bandon’s Face Rock Creamery. People still remember feeling excited and optimistic for the town and, in particular, for cheese, when plans for the creamery in the old cheese factory’s location were announced.  It was, for some, a renewal of an old important part of Bandon that seemed like it might have died forever.  To celebrate this important and momentous occasion, Face Rock Creamery threw itself a birthday party Mother’s Day weekend.


The anniversary party was in full swing on Saturday even before its projected start time of noon on Friday.  Folks of all ages lined up as soon as they caught the first whiff of a hot grill, eager to purchase a burger or hot dog and a microbrew from Arch Rock (Gold Beach), Hop Valley (Eugene), or 7 Devils (Coos Bay) microbrew or a soda.  After they had their goodies, some headed to the covered eating area outside while others made their way inside to escape the slightly cool temperature and breezes.

IMG_1374Inside, party goers were treated to wine tasting from local wineries, including Bandon’s own Sea Mist cranberry wines, as well as samples of Face Rock’s selection of cheeses and curds.  For the first time, the creamery had available a special extra aged cheddar cheese which has been aged for 2 years…meaning they started this particular variety when they first opened!  It is well worth the time we had to wait, believe me.


One of the most popular spots for visitors to hit was, of course, the Umpqua ice cream counter.  Children (and adults!) with very generous “child sized” ice cream cones bigger than their heads wandered about in a blissful ice cream stupor, and many made their way upstairs to enjoy an elevated perspective of the creamery and a view of the Coquille River from the eating area.


No party would be complete without music, and this one was no exception.  The music got started later in the afternoon, and celebrators mingled and moved to the tunes.

There are no two ways about it; Face Rock throws a great birthday party, and as with any birthday party, it’s clear that the honoree is well-loved when hundreds of people attend.  Bandon residents and visitors are very fond of their Face Rock cheese and always will be!

I can’t wait for next year!


Meet Brad Sinko of Face Rock Creamery

The Face Rock Creamery may be a relatively new business, but it is part of an old and integral tradition in Bandon.  Cheese has been an important part of the town’s history since the 19th century; the industry even survived two major fires in 1914 and 1936 that destroyed much of the town’s infrastructure and architecture.  The Bandon Cheese Factory on Highway 101 was erected in 1937 after the last fire and produced a variety of cheeses.  Residents and visitors enjoyed tours of the factory and its products for many years.


In 2000, the Bandon Cheese Factory was bought by Tillamook, and a few years later, the factory was closed and then destroyed.  Residents mourned its loss, and it looked like Bandon cheese might be gone for good.  In 2011, however, the urban renewal agency of Bandon purchased some of the land previously occupied by the old factory, and plans for the return of cheese were put in place.  A partnership between the city and private investors formed, and Face Rock Creamery was born.


Of course a good cheese company needs a good cheese maker.  Enter Brad Sinko.  Or rather, reenter Brad Sinko.  Born in Oregon and raised mainly in California, Brad attended university at the University of Nebraska, following his father, Joe Sinko, who had opened an ice cream plant in Omaha.  After finishing school at Oregon State University with a degree in fishery science and a minor in microbiology, Brad came to Bandon where his parents were living, and after some time working for the Forest Service and doing some consulting for a fish biologist, he agreed to help his dad for a few days who, at the time owned the Bandon Cheese Factory.  Brad had no idea how quickly he would get hooked, and he eventually ran the place himself.

When Tillamook bought the factory, Brad stayed on and ran it for them for a couple of years, but soon left.  He was doing some consulting in Guatamala when Kurt Beecher Dammeier of Beecher’s Cheeses in Seattle contacted him and invited Brad to work for him as the head cheesemaker.  Brad was flown to Seattle from Guatamala to meet with them and knew it was a done deal the minute he walked in the door.  He was quickly hired and set to designing their
floors and organizing all of the complicated equipment (which he later did at Beecher’s location in New York City as well).  He invented their Flagship cheese, a very specialized cheddar made with a unique culture and process, and won several national awards while there.vampire slayer banner

In the meantime, Greg Drobot came to and fell in love with our fair town of Bandon and decided to revive Bandon’s cheese tradition by opening the Face Rock Creamery.  Naturally, he consulted with Joe Sinko.  Joe encouraged Greg to make Brad an offer to bring him back to Bandon.  Greg was skeptical that Brad would come but made the offer, and Brad, seeing the opportunity to be back in Bandon among family, work with someone like Greg who was excited and interested in the cheesemaking, and be part of an exciting startup where he would have freedom to invent creative artisan cheeses, took it.  He came down with his wife Sarah and their son Max and made Bandon their home.  Together, Brad, Greg, and vice president Daniel Graham opened the doors of the Face Rock Creamery in the spring of 2013.

The Face Rock Creamery was built on the site of the old Bandon Cheese Factory, and Bandon residents were ecstatic to see the rebirth of Bandon cheese.  “It was a godsend,” Brad says.  “You could see a new little skip in people’s steps around here.”

Greg, Daniel, and Brad work exceptionally well together.  At Beechers, Brad saw the owner on the floor only once in ten years.  Greg, however, is often on the floor and has helped make cheese on several occasions.  He and Daniel had a steep learning curve, learning a great deal about cheese making in a short period of time.IMG_1351

As a result of this dynamic team, an incredibly talented master cheese maker, a caring cheese making team, and the support of the community, Face Rock Creamery has had a very successful first 21 months.  In their first year, the Creamery won an award for their Vampire Slayer garlic cheddar cheese, and in the second for the In Your Face curds.  They produced 250,000 pounds of cheese in the first year, over double what Beechers produced in their first year.  They are in 900 stores in five states, and there are courses taught at Utah State University on the adjunct culture addition to cheddars that Brad pioneered.

Brad is very proud of the local sourcing and “ultimate recycling” that happens with his cheese making.  Good cheese has to come from good milk, and he found that at one of the few remaining dairies in Coquille.  Having worked with dairy products for much of his life, he has seen the conditions of many huge dairy operations and has been appalled, so he was happy to find a local dairy with truly happy cows.  After as much whey as possible has been removed from the curds, it goes on a truck and returns to the dairy and fed back to the cows.

IMG_1389Visitors invited onto the floor are in for a treat, as long as they don’t mind signing in, donning a hairnet, and stepping through sanitizing foam on the floor as they walk in, food safety being number one at the Face Rock Creamery.  From the raw milk tank to the all-important pasteurizer, all of the machines used in the process are carefully designed and chosen to make a safe and quality product, and the team making the cheese work together carefully and efficiently.  The large windows from the retail store onto the cheese making floor encourage visitors to observe the process, and it’s an experience everyone should have at some point in their lives.

In the retail side of the Creamery, visitors can enjoy a variety of treats while watching the team make Face Rock cheese.  There are samples galore of cheese and curds, a beer and wine bar where staff can suggest cheese pairing, and Umpqua ice cream being scooped with a “child sized” cone large enough to make any child’s (or adult’s, for that matter) eyes pop.  A large selection of Face Rock Creamery cheeses is available for purchase as well as local products such as jams and cranberry wine, glassware, apparel, kitchen accessories and gifts.  Up the stairs, above the shop, is a lovely view of the Coquille River, the lighthouse and the jetty.IMG_1375

The Creamery’s amazing cheeses include 10 flavors of cheddar (including the award winning “Vampire Slayer”), curds, fromage blanc, and Monterey Jack.  The cheese is also available in several retail locations including Fred Meyer, New Seasons, Market of Choice and Safeway as well as dozens of independent stores, markets and restaurants.  You can also find them at the local markets in Bandon as well as the Eugene Saturday Market and the Coos Bay Farmers’ Market, and they also offer their products at the Cape Blanco Music Festival and other special events.  Products are also available online.

IMG_1374Brad Sinko, Greg Drobot, and Daniel Graham are the dynamic team that brought cheese back to Bandon and make Face Rock Creamery happen, and they have much to be proud of.  It’s not alchemy nor magic that changes raw milk to delicious cheddar, Monterey Jack, curds and fromage blanc, it’s the quality of the milk, the precision of the machines, attention to food safety, and the talent of the humans that brings us the cheese we so quickly fall in love with.

face rock creamery2The details:
Face Rock Creamery
Open daily 9 – 6
680 2nd Street
541.347.3223   OR   541.347.FACE
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