Cheese, Please

In a little over a month, Watonga Cheese Factory is set to open next to the Chamber of Commerce building on Main. Founded in 1940 in Watonga, Oklahoma, the company has made a name for itself by producing high-quality cheddar cheese by hand.

Casey and Brandi Cowan purchased the factory in 2002 and rebuilt the company, which was having difficulties after investors took over in the late ’90s and abandoned the original Watonga Cheese recipe and processes. (The Cowans live in Balko, and Brandi owns Advantage Accounting here in Perryton.)

After buying the factory, Casey spent several months learning Watonga Cheese’s signature recipe and processes under the direction of its original cheese maker. Brandi and he operated the factory from their home in Balko and from a home in Watonga.

But in 2007 Tropical Storm Erin brought 80-mile-an-hour winds and 9 to 11 inches of rain to Watonga. It tore off the factory’s roof and twisted the building’s foundation and cinderblock walls. The insurance company condemned the building, along with its inventory of 7,000 pounds of cheese.

As the Cowans were trying to decide whether to rebuild Watonga Cheese Factory near its original site or relocate, Perryton Community Development Corporation lured the couple with business incentives, both for reopening in Perryton and for employing people from here.

They broke ground on the new factory last November, and they are set to open on June 1. Because of the move, the Cowans will be able to purchase the milk for the cheese from Cowan Dairy, Casey’s parents’ 130-cow dairy in Balko.

Casey and Brandi are bringing in the original equipment from the Watonga factory, and they will continue to follow the company’s traditional recipe, which includes hand processing the cheese.

In addition to producing all-natural cheese at the new location, the factory will have a retail store where you can buy its mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, bacon cheddar, cheddar pepper, and onion cheddar cheeses. It will also sell cheese curds (the freshest part of the cheese before whey is pressed out), along with approximately 50 different kinds of other manufacturers’ cheeses.

We hope you’re as excited as we are to welcome this great company to Perryton!

4 Comments

  1. Donna C Jett 04.28.10

    I am so pleased. I love the cheese. Since I am in Colorado, I plan to buy on-line. Can’t wait for the web site so I can share it with friends.

  2. Carolynn Gibson 04.29.10

    Nice article, I’m excited for you to get opened again. I can taste the cheese now. Are you planning on internet sales? Sure hope so!Congrats!

  3. admin 05.06.10

    Carolynn, yes, the Cowans will sell cheese on Watonga Cheese Factory’s site after the factory opens. We can’t wait!

  4. Tanisha 05.26.10

    Ohh Im soo buying chedder Beacon cheese when I come to visit. That stuff is amazing!!!


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