On the Road fans have we got a treat for you! Taylor and I are going to take you on a road trip to some of the best KELOLAND made products you’re going to find. Lets go!
“They came together and built, built the co-op and there was about 30 milking families that worked together to supply the dairy and, and it operated as a co-op from 1931 when it opened, until 1950, or excuse me, 2015,” said Bryce Havlik. “The production facility is still located here, located here in Dimock on the east side of town. We use very little automation. We use the best ingredients that we can find but it is a handmade process which allows us to offer our customers a premium cheese.”
General Manager Bryce Havlik welcomed Taylor and I to Dimock Cheese in Dimock, South Dakota. An almost brand-new storefront provided the backdrop. “We knew that if we had a highway presence with all the traffic through here out on the highway, that we would get people that would stop in,” said Bryce Havlik.
“We’re just south of Mitchell on Highway 37, north of Parkston. Highway 42 out of, out of Sioux Falls,” said Bryce Havlik.
“So, all roads lead right here to Dimock Cheese,” said Mike Huether. “They do. Yep,” said Bryce Havlik.
Not only is this the oldest cheese plant in South Dakota, it is one of it’s most successful. I was amazed that only four production employees make all of the cheese. They do it the old-fashioned way. “Everybody works for the brand. With the strong brand that we have you know, being operating for 89 years. It takes good people to get it done.” said Bryce Havlik.
“What are the, the most popular cheeses here at Dimock Cheese?” asked Mike Huether.
“Well, hands down the most popular is our squeaky cheese, our Colby Longhorn,” said Bryce Havlik. “We offer over 32 flavors of real cheese, not processed cheese with other ingredients or fillers. All is real cheese.”
They even have a raspberry with jalapeno flavor and are experimenting with blueberry cheese. There are all kinds of South Dakota made products in the store. “We have a lot of different meats from the lockers. We have popcorn, peanut butter, coffees, a lot of, a lot of wines, and vodkas, so we just, you know, we work to help promote other South Dakota products,” said Bryce Havlik. Dimock Cheese certainly promotes and is thankful for the local dairy producers, too. “To make good cheese, you have to have good milk. We have a great supply of high-quality local milk,” said Bryce Havlik.
Bryce, we have got to get back on the road.
“Bryce, my friends, I know you know, we did this road trip around Hutchinson County and, and this was always, you know, a major stop for us, and still is today. So, you know, I gotta get some cheese before I leave here today,” said Mike Huether.
“Yeah. Sure. Sure,” said Bryce Havlik.
Our next stop was just a few miles south in downtown Parkston, where town native Mark Morehouse welcomed us to Schuver’s Café. “This is the original Schuver’s Café that my grandmother built, started to build I believe it was in 1946,” said Mark Morehouse.
“Grandma Schuver. What was her specialty back then?” asked Mike Huether. “She did a lot of fried chicken back then. Yes, of course. Yeah. And that’s what I remember, fried chicken and some homemade beans,” said Mark Morehouse.
“So, chicken, in a way, has been a legacy of Schuver’s Café. And yeah, maybe even this Mark Morehouse guy for a long, long time,” said Mike Huether. “Yeah, yeah,” said Mark Morehouse.
The food folks remember now, and that includes this old mayor Mike guy, is the incredible chicken salad. Mark perfected the recipe over the years, but his mom got it started. “She had the grinder where you would clamp it to your countertop. But she would grind chicken, and, and we turned it into chicken salad,” said Mark Morehouse.
As expected, Mark didn’t share the family recipe but offered a few clues. “It’s a combination of a lot of different salad dressings and different ingredients that we, that we put in that. And we messed around with that, with that recipe for a long time before we really felt it was good,” said Mark Morehouse.
Tammy and Shawn Wheeler purchased Schuver’s Café from Mark in 2019. The recipes were part of the deal. “But it is their, it’s their baby now. Yeah, the recipes went with the business,” said Mark Morehouse. “Potato salad, macaroni crab salad, baked beans. All, all those different things that, that we produced here are now… Tammy and Shawn’s recipe,” said Mark Morehouse.
People travel from all over for a taste of chicken salad goodness! “My cousin’s hubby Craig, every chance he gets, he comes just all the way from Harrisburg just for the chicken salad,” said Mike Huether. “Correct,” said Mark Morehouse. “He even has my phone number,” said Mark Morehouse. “I love it. Does he have the secret recipe?” asked Mike Huether. “No,” said Mark Morehouse. “Has he tried?” asked Mike Huether. “He’s tried to pry it out of me, yes,” said Mark Morehouse.
After filling my cooler, we headed just outside of Hutchinson County to Delmont, the home of the Blue Bird Locker. Second generation owner Bill Bietz greeted us. “In 1969 my father had got into this business and he basically ran this with my mom and I went into the military back in ’89 and when I got out, I came back home to help run it,” said Bill Bietz. “That was 50 years,” said Mike Huether. “51 this summer,” said Bill Bietz. “Congratulations,” said Mike Huether.
“KELOLAND, if you were only here and if you could smell that it’s so good in here,” said Mike Huether. We’ve got steaks. We’ve got brats. We’ve got chicken. We’ve got even bacon cheddar potatoes here,” said Mike Huether. What are the top sellers here at the Blue Bird?” asked Mike Huether. “Our German Sausage is by far the number one seller. I mean we… I don’t know how many pounds we go through a year, but it’s a lot,” said Bill Bietz.
Bill’s dad, Ervin Bietz, owned the locker for 40 years and he still comes into work every morning. The Bietz family and Blue Bird Locker employee legacy of quality, service and flavor is rock solid. “What is so special about your particular products here?” asked Mike Huether. “Well, there’s no preservatives in them. We use the freshest meat that we can get our hands on. Obviously, ‘from the farm to the table’ is what we like to say,” said Bill Bietz. “This recipe come from my grandparents and my dad perfected it, and I basically just came in and try not to screw anything up,” said Bill Bietz.
So, Bill, how in the world did the Blue Bird Locker get its famous name? “The building was built with the Blue Bird logo in the brick. The guy, I guess liked blue birds. That’s way before my time. And so, it was pretty hard to change the name and that just kind of stuck,” said Bill Bietz. Now, it’s not called the Blue Bird Sausage. It is called Delmont Sausage,” said Mike Huether. “Yep,” said Bill Bietz. “We wanted to get the name of the town,” said Bill Bietz. “Yeah,” agreed Mike Huether. “In the logo, in the… in the label, just so people would know where to go to get it,” said Bill Bietz. “And it works,” said Mike Huether. “Yeah,” said Bill Bietz.
Boy, does it ever. A road trip to the Blue Bird for a cooler full of Delmont Sausage and so much more is a must. It is time to get back “On the Road.”