By Damaine Vonada
Posted On: Jan 11, 2017
When I’m driving I-71 between Cleveland and Columbus, stopping at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn is one of my favorite ways to take a break from the monotony of the interstate. Apparently, a lot of other travelers think so too, because no matter what time of day I stop there, and the Cheesebarn is always busy. What’s the big attraction? Lots of good food and plenty of shopping fun.
Tucked among the farm fields just east of Ashland, Grandpa’s Cheesebarn really is located inside an old dairy barn that “Grandpa” Dick Baum and his daughter and son-in-law, Ronda and Dick Poorbaugh, converted to a cheese shop back in 1978. Today it’s still family-owned and operated, but the big white Cheesebarn has become the “capital” of a unique foodie village.
Not only does the barn itself include both a cafe and store where you can buy everything from candles and jewelry to Grandpa’s private label pickles and pancake mixes, but newer barn-style buildings also contain a splendid candy shop – aptly named Sweeties Jumbo Chocolates – as well as facilities for producing goodies such as bread, cheese spreads, and cookies.
I usually head straight to the Cheesebarn’s cafe, where the sheer variety of yummy snacks and sandwiches makes it a challenge to decide what I want to eat. The cafe uses whole cream to create ice creams in tempting flavors like three chip mint, and its silken milkshakes (think turtle, black raspberry, or tried-and-true chocolate) and homemade soups (tomato or ham and bean) are truly delish.
Although the cafe’s deli sandwiches are made to order, I’m partial to the chicken salad or BLT (which features the Cheesebarn’s own super-savory bacon!). And I love the novel way that the cafe serves sandwiches – on an upside-down Frisbee that doubles as a souvenir customers can keep.
Not surprisingly, the Cheesebarn’s selection of cheese is phenomenal. The store carries about 200 varieties of cheese, and many of the domestic cheeses come from Ohio’s Amish Country. Since the Cheesebarn encourages sampling, I’m always finding new or different cheeses – like an imported whiskey cheddar or triple cream Bergenost – to take home.
Likewise, Sweeties is chockful chocolate temptations. Its homemade butter-and-cream fudge is pure Nirvana; the chocolate covered Oreos and Twinkies are diet busters; and the Buckeye Pizza – a multi-layered concoction of milk chocolate, white chocolate, and buckeye candies – is downright decadent.
Grandpa’s Cheese Barn and Sweeties Chocolates, 668 US Highway 250 E., Ashland, OH 44805(Exit 186 off Interstate 71). 419-281-3202; www.grandpascheesebarn.com.
For more ideas for your next food-venture, Find it Here at Ohio.org.