How many times have you driven past Exit 186 on 71 and wondered what is going on at Grandpa's Cheesebarn? I noticed this place for the first time in 2008, and I had to stop in. Since then, I make a point to stop every time I'm in the Ashland, Ohio area. When I stopped in on Friday, I had just missed Grandpa. Yes, Grandpa is a real person, and he started the original cheese shop with Grandma. Dick and Vera Baum opened the original family business in Salem, Ohio, and they opened Grandpa's Cheesebarn in 1978. It remains in the family to this day.
(Say cheese! ... I'm sorry, I had to)
I sat down with Pappy, son of Grandpa, to talk about the Cheesebarn. He says most of their business comes from people passing through, but once people stop in once, they are hooked (he's right). Almost everything sold at Grandpa's Cheesebarn is made in Ohio - their products are "as local as we can get," says Pappy. They test everything before they put their names on it, and you can too! Every day they put out over 150 samples of butters, jellies, syrups, and, of course, cheese. Pappy's favorite cheese is the Horseradish Bacon, one of the many varieties in the cheese shop.
(One day I will try them all)
So what makes Pappy Ohio Proud? "Besides the Buckeyes? East and west of here you have craziness on the coasts. Ohio is a nice place to raise a family." He also said there aren't too many other places that make such good cheese. Before I left, Pappy treated me to an excellent lunch (thanks again, Pappy!). I can honestly say this is the best potato soup I have ever tried, and the panini was great as well.