Md. creamery to expand with new Frederick eatery, ice cream parlor
FREDERICK, Md. — South Mountain Creamery, a well-known Frederick County dairy operation, is opening the state’s first farmer-owned restaurant in downtown Frederick next year.
The restaurant at 50 Citizens Way will feature two dining options: the South Mountain Creamery Ice Cream Shop and Hometown Harvest Kitchen, with a shared dining hall for 200 people, creamery co-owner Tony Brusco said.
“It’s been one of those ideas that we always thought it would be neat to do, but we never thought it would be a reality,” he said.
The restaurant will further diversify the creamery and local food company, which serves thousands of regional customers through its Hometown Harvest delivery service, providing another outlet for the creamery’s milk and food products. Brusco said he envisions the restaurant as “elevated comfort food” — “kind of like the Cracker Barrel, but a step above,” he said.
The restaurant will create 35 full- and part-time jobs, and it’s expected to open in spring of 2019.
Brusco, 40, is married to Abby Brusco, the daughter of well-known former creamery owner Randy Sowers. Sowers made national news in 2015 for his fight with the U.S. Justice Department over the improper seizure of $30,000 from his farm bank account. He won, and the money was returned. He also sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over its proposed definition and labeling of skim milk in April.
Sowers passed the business down to Brusco and his children recently.
“Now he just has more time to do that,” Brusco said of Sowers’ political and advocacy work. Though he’s still involved with the farm’s operations. “He’s a retired farmer, and I don’t think you can take that out of the farmer. But he doesn’t have to have the stress and the worry about managing the business and things. That’s passed to us.”
As it moves into its downtown location, Hometown Harvest will relocate its commercial kitchen, which makes prepared salads, soups and other dishes for delivery, Brusco said. It sells eggs and beef produced by the creamery and food and produce items grown by 150 to 200 regional farmers, he said.
The kitchen currently operates out of a rented warehouse in the Frederick area. The new restaurant location will include a larger kitchen than a typical restaurant as it will also serve South Mountain’s Hometown Harvest delivery service. The restaurant is a smart way for the company to expand, Brusco said.
“Farming is tough right now, especially dairy farming,” he said. “One of the things that makes this business plan is because we have overlapping entities in the same footprint. … If one of these entities is slow or goes down, the other two should be able to carry it.”
Hometown Harvest Kitchen will feature a line-style layout showcasing local food with hand-tossed salads, hand-crafted sandwiches, hot comfort foods, hot and cold sides, and South Mountain Creamery’s handcrafted premium ice cream. It will allow patrons to take out food or sit while eating.
The South Mountain Creamery Ice Cream Shop will sell ice cream by the pint, the scoop or in milkshakes.
The family owns and farms roughly 3,000 acres in Frederick County where they milk 550 cows, raise more than 100 beef cattle and 16,000 laying chickens. Three generations now work on the farm. Tony and Abby Brusco and Ben and Kate Sowers now run the company. The business employs more than 85 people.
Randy and Karen Sowers launched the business in 1981. In 2001, South Mountain became the first on-farm milk processing plant. It serves nearly 10,000 customers across the region.
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P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925