A middle-aged man, bundled up against swirling snow and 20 degree temperature, walked out of Moo-ville eating a double dip Sea Salt Caramel ice cream cone and carrying a gallon of milk in the middle of December.
Ice cream is not a seasonal treat anymore and mik has always been a staple.
The place to get premium ice cream is the MOO-ville store south of Nashville and any of the 120 other stores they supply with their dairy products.
Founded in 2005 by Louisa and Doug Westendorp, the dairy is a thriving commercial business, and is expanding with a second store and ice cream shop, called “MOO-ville, The Udder Store” in Ionia. Scheduled to open right after the new year, "The Udder Store" is at 162 East Tuttle Road, across the street from Ionia High School.
At the original MOO-ville store on South M-66, ice cream, milk, butter and cheese are available and a light lunch menu during winter hours of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Sunday. Also offered are ground chuck or patties, cheese curds, butter, cinnamon butter, garlic butter, sliced, shredded, and block cheese. At MOO-ville, there is no question where their products come from - just look up the hill at their farm.
The Westendorps create 80 flavors of ice cream, with 40 flavors of premium hand-dipped ice cream available at any one time, and they have two soft serve machines. The new ice cream store has a rural theme, and is shaped like a barn with open beams and barn walls. They will debut with hours from 12 a.m. to 7 p.m. Lunches will be added soon.
A drive through will be popular with moms who don’t want to get all of the kids out of the car when she just wants to pick up a gallon of milk, MOO-ville representative Tina Westendorp said.
The Westendorp’s grown children, Carlyle, twins Troy and Eric, followed by triplets Levi, Tina and Brittany, all work in the family business. A member of the Nashville Route-66 Business District, the Westendorps are active in the community. They produced 1,300 gallons of ice cream in the attempt for the world’s longest ice cream sundae at 3,600 feet this year. Nashville won the national title for longest sundae with a length of 1,823 feet in 2015, however, Ludington later staged a longest sundae effort and outdid Nashville’s length.
“We beat Ludington this year, so we’re just waiting for confirmation from the Guinness Book of World Records,” Tina said.
The Westendorps are also involved in the annual Christmas Parade, Christmas in the Village and Sandy Land Concerts. October is garage sale month and every December, they hold a craft sale in the store. The dairy farm offers public tours and creamery tours to groups and school children. Their free petting zoo and farm toys in the play area are popular with children.
The farm has 220 Holsteins milked by robots 24 hours a day, produces 2,500 gallons a day, and ships 10,000 gallons a week to their outlets. Each cow drinks enough water to fill a bath tub every day. “We get a day off occasionally, the cows never do,” Tina quipped. Westendorps have kept the price of milk the same for years. “Instead of fluctuating with each price rise or dip, we keep it the same; we come out okay, and it gives our customers consistency,” Tina said.
Of all their ice cream flavor choices, the most popular is Sea Salt Caramel, at the top of sales for three years. Second is Chocolinator, with chocolate ice cream, fudge, Oreos and chocolate chunks. Add Cookie Dough, Tina’s Tricked Out Toffee and Almond Joy for the top five most requested flavors.
Perennial favorites, vanilla and chocolate, are still in the top ten of flavors, but strawberry has dropped from the list. No-sugar-added ice creams are also featured at MOO-ville.
The Maple Valley Township farm raises corn, wheat, beans and hay, raising the feed for the dairy herd.
For much more about MOO-ville, visit them on Facebook or their website at MOO-ville.com.
Photos: Upper left: A family photo shows (from left) Tasha, Troy, Mason, Carlyle, Lindsey, (back) Levi, Tina, Eric (front) mom Louisa, dad Doug Westendorp and Jonah and Claire Benedict and their dad Joe, and mom, Brittany Benedict holding Myrie.
Upper right: The "MOO-ville The Udder Store" logo. The new store in Ionia will open the first of the year.
Middle left: Claire Benedict says hello to a new Holstein calf.
Middle right: Jody the cow overlooks the MOO-ville store on South M-66. Jody is a hit when she appears in parades and other celebrations.
Lower left: The original "MOO-ville Quality Creamery" store will soon be joined by "MOO-ville, the Udder Store" in Ionia.