After eight years in Eugene followed by a dozen years in Albany, owner and head cheese maker Francisco Ochoa needed a larger space to meet increasing demand for their award-winning traditional Mexican cheese. He chose Salem as the home for his new custom-built cheese factory and eatery.
“My dad Froylan started making cheese at home around 2000,” explains Francisco. “He wanted to open a creamery, but unfortunately he passed away before he could do it. So, it was my older brother who started the creamery in Eugene in 2003 and I was helping him.” In 2008, Francisco took over the business and moved it to a bigger facility in Albany, finally landing in Salem in 2020.
The new Salem facility has allowed Francisco and his family to expand their offerings with a quesadilla and nacho bar on site featuring the freshest and meltiest cheese in town along with tender, flavorful meats and lavish condiments. Guests can enjoy the casual, order-at-the counter fare indoors while watching cheese being made, or outdoors on the patio. The Creamery also offers aguas frescas (traditional house-made cold drinks) and ice cream from Lochmead dairy, which supplies the 11,000 gallons of raw milk they transform into cheese each week.
Don Froylan’s Mexican cheeses have been recognized by the American Cheese Society, frequently earning medals since 2011. “It’s traditional of course, artisanal…everything's handmade by our cheese makers,” says Francisco. “We use raw milk as it comes from the farm…[the cheese] has a better flavor, it's creamier because it has all the cream in the milk. Then it's handmade and hand-stretched the old-fashioned way. We always welcome everybody to come in and see our cheese making and try our food, or just to pop in and say hi,” he says.
The creamery is in the heart of a thriving community bursting with Mexican food and culture, where tacos, churros, seafood and groceries complement Don Froylan’s plump quesadillas and abundantly appointed nachos, all showcasing varieties of Oaxaca and Asadero cheese. Visitors can also buy those cheeses to take home, along with queso fresco, cotija, and requeson as well as house made crema Mexicana, salsa and chorizo.
Want to learn more about Latino-owned businesses in the Salem region? Check out our October blog post.