If you’re a cheese lover, make a beeline for Manitowoc. Pine River Dairy in Manitowoc sells 296 different varieties of cheese in its retail store, as well as fresh butter and other dairy goodies.
“Fresh cheese curds and string cheese are always a hit with our customers,” says Laurie Olm, owner and plant manager at Pine River Dairy. “We are also known for our 25-cent ice cream cones, fresh butter and the many varieties of cheese we carry.”
The store also carries sausage, frozen foods, souvenirs and more. Now in its sixth generation, Pine River Dairy started in 1877 when the sons of August Olm began making cheese. Olm’s great-grandson purchased Pine River Dairy at its current location in 1941 and made cheddar cheese and butter until 1951, when the dairy switched to just butter. The cheese sold today is made in many different Wisconsin factories.
Laurie and her sisters began working with their parents while growing up, and all three continue operating the business today.
“My mother and my aunt are semi-retired, but they still help us two or three days a week,” Olm says.
Using local cream, Pine River Dairy produces about 3.5 million pounds of butter each year. About 25 percent is sold in retail stores, while the other 75 percent is sold to the food industry.
Olm says she’s proud to be a sixth-generation dairy manufacturer in Wisconsin.
“I have made great friends with our store customers, and I love being able to call my employees my friends,” she says. “We have an awesome group of employees who really care about what they do.”