Reed’s Dairy

Idaho Falls' Cheesy, Creamy Fast Food

Take the Broadway Street exit off Interstate 15 in Idaho Falls and you’ll find the standard fast food dining options: McDonalds, Subway, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Arby’s. But if you want something a little different — and delicious — head a little further down the westward road. In a few minutes and with a few dollars you can sink your teeth into the farm-fresh offerings at Reed’s Dairy.

Founded in 1955 by the Reed Brothers, this Idaho Falls favorite is still going strong more than 60 years later. All the dairy products sold at the store and restaurant are produced and processed on-site: the cheese for their simple but satisfying grilled cheese and ham sandwiches on sourdough, the creamy chocolate milk, and decadent ice cream.

By Natalie Hollingshead

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

 

Cash Cow(s)

By industry measures Reed’s Dairy is, well, small potatoes, to mix farming metaphors. The dairy milks about 150 cows daily, and has managed to not only stay in business but grow —all while other family owned farms become more scarce across America.

“We process and make our own ice cream, cheese and milk,” says Alan Reed, co-owner of Reed’s Dairy. “We sell a majority of our milk right directly to the consumer and that’s helped us over the years to stay small and yet still stay in business. Our margins are low.”

The company operates its main store in Idaho Falls and another on the east side of town in Ammon, Idaho. In March 2016, the company started door-to-door milk delivery in Boise, Idaho, and a few Idaho Falls-area grocery stores and ice cream shops carry Reed’s Dairy ice cream.

 

A Moo-ving Experience

Thanks to word of mouth and positive ratings on websites like Yelp.com, Reed’s Dairy gets a fair number of out-of-town visitors. Travelers detour off the interstate to sample the famous ice cream or, if they packed a cooler, pick up bottles of chocolate milk to haul back home. When the weather is right, Reed’s Dairy is a great spot for a picnic and to stretch your legs. A petting area with calves, baby pigs, goats, sheep and horses was added about a decade ago. Visitors can check out the cows that supply the milk, too.

It isn’t only out-of-towners who appreciate the diary, however.

“We get a lot of local people who come and bring their family and spend a couple of hours,” Reed says. “It’s surprising to see how many people we get during lunchtime; we’ll have businesspeople come check on the animals regularly and see how they’re growing.”

Community events are another big draw. “We have a Halloween party, an Easter party, and a breakfast at the dairy when we serve pancakes and ice cream,” Reed says. The business also celebrates National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on Feb. 4 and serves up French toast and ice cream for a bargain price.

 

Top Producers

Customers appreciate that Reed’s Dairy products are made on-site and as fresh as possible, Reed says. The milk isn’t hauled hundreds of miles before it’s processed and reaches consumers’ refrigerators; it’s generally sold to customers within hours of when it came from the cow.

Top-selling products include the chocolate milk — Reed says some people drive from Utah just for that — and the fresh cheese curds. Of course, the 80-odd flavors of ice cream are a favorite of many, too. The September 2009 issue of Saveur magazine exuded about it: “… we have found none better than at Reed’s Dairy. The flavors are almost supernaturally sumptuous.”

The secret to 60-plus years in business is top-notch customers and products, Reed says. “We have loyal customers, but the reason a business has loyal customers is because you treat them correctly and you provide really good products,” he says. “That’s been our goal, to really take care of the customers and really provide a superior product.”