In Utah, family is very important. From the culture developed around family events and outdoor adventure to the deeply rooted lineage and ties to state history, the value of family sits high in Utah communities.
Therefore, when your family has a tradition that been passed down from generation to generation, it’s almost impossible to break the cycle. Especially when it involves squeaky cheese.
Jeff Knighton, principal architect and founder of Knighton Architecture in Orem, Utah, grew up in Utah with a loyalty to squeaky cheese that began as a child when his grandmother introduced him to cheese curds.
“I grew up in Utah County,” said Jeff. “We had cousins that lived in Las Vegas and my grandmother would drive us in the summer to visit them. We’d pass through Beaver and we would always stop at the cheese store and get the squeaky cheese.”
Being the only place in Southern Utah to make fresh cheese curds — or as many Utahn’s call it “squeaky cheese” — makes visiting Beaver a unique family experience. So unique that when you’re asked to design a new building for the infamous squeaky cheese store, you can’t say no.
“I got a call one day from the plant manager, he said ‘We are a cheese store in Beaver.’ As soon as he said that I knew,” said Jeff. “I told him, ‘I know exactly who you are and whatever your question is the answer is yes. Because I love the cheese store.’”
Jeff began working with a group from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) made up of management, employees and family farmer-owners on designs for a new space.
“There was a little store that was well loved and highly trafficked, but it was small,” said Jeff. “The new design was a pretty significant investment, pretty significant project and we wondered if enough people would stop here and support the new store?”
Today, The Creamery has been open for almost 3 years and served millions of customers from around the world. Each customer who walks through the dairy destination’s doors are embraced by design, flow and visuals that reflected the store’s legacy of being a family-friendly experience and creating new traditions. All of which Jeff took into account when working on the design and look of The Creamery.
“Create something that’s meaningful, something that’s iconic,” said Jeff. “That’s what was in my mind when we went through the design process, this needs to be a special and meaningful place and the architecture needed to support that.”
And does it ever. The Creamery’s recognition throughout the region has surpassed all initial projections and all that our family farm-owners could have ever hoped for. Even 3 years later, being able to see families and new visitors experience and fully embrace the space is a joy to watch, even if you’re just passing through on vacation like Jeff and his family.
“If my family and I are driving through, we stop. It’s become mandatory,” said Jeff. “We’ll pull up and I’ll just sit in the car for a second and kind of soak it in. I can see that there are families that have gathered outside and are eating ice cream or are walking out with bags of cheese. When you come inside the store you see them ordering and having the experience you imagined. It’s a fun feeling. It’s exciting to see this become a meaningful place to other people.”
From family reunions on patio benches to parents helping their toddlers pick out a flavor of ice cream, there are new experiences and memories being created every day at The Creamery. Memories that start new traditions and continue to be passed on to future generations.
“Now my kids and other kids get to have the experience of coming here,” said Jeff. “When they are grown and bringing their kids or friends through, they will be able to reflect on The Creamery, like I can on the old cheese store. They now have that tradition of stopping here and the more people I talk to the more I know they are creating that tradition. It’s become a must stop destination for a lot of people.”
Header image: Jeff Knighton, left, with Dennis Rodenbaugh, executive vice president of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), and president of council operations and ingredient solutions, DFA, at The Creamery’s groundbreaking ceremony on April 11, 2018.