July 12, 2018
The Wisconsin city that calls itself the “Cheese Capital of the World” now has a center celebrating its rich history in making, processing, packaging and selling cheese. The Plymouth Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center opened last fall in a downtown building.
Plymouth’s four major names in cheese manufacturing or packaging — Sargento, Sartori, Masters Gallery and Great Lakes — helped refurbish the building into an architecturally designed tourist center that features an interactive display of the community’s long and storied background with cheese (it once was home to the National Cheese Exchange and to Kraft and Borden plants), a diner that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches, packaged cheese from plants in the area, a variety of Cheese Capital of the World clothing, other souvenir items and, for the adventurous, an assortment of cheesehead caps and wedges —there’s even a top hat.
Sue Barth, general manager, and Margie Morgan, assistant manager, and several employees work under the city’s Redevelopment Authority, headed coincidentally by Lee Gentine, part of the family that operates Sargento. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day but Tuesday.
“We’re really busy for lunch,” Morgan says.
Barth says the center is self-sustaining, with about half of the proceeds coming from the food counter and ice cream. There are some dairy and cheesemaking artifacts, but Barth emphasizes that the center is not a museum.
There are mugs, glasses, history books on Sheboygan County cheesemakers and the city of Plymouth, dairy displays, an interactive dairy quiz and the opportunity to take a selfie with an original Borden’s uniform.
Buchholz lives in Fond du Lac, Wis.
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