Hype for local favorite Grandpa’s Cheesebarn is well deserved

The infamous “Grandpa” of Grandpa’s Cheesebarn helps wait on a customer.

By Dan Shade and Emily Sedlak

In the early 1900s, Grandpa Yarman sold his only possession, a portable RCA radio, for his first wheel of Ohio Swiss, and started his own cheese house, Yarman’s, in West Salem, Ohio.

In the thirties, Grandpa Yarman and his store became a “hot spot” for West Salem, but it was also during this time that Grandpa Yarman grew ill.

His daughter, Vera, now simply known as Grandma, met Yarman, and the two of them started to reconstruct what Grandma’s father had built, turning it into the store Wonderland of Food.

“It’s all still family-owned and family-run,” Jennifer Turnage, a current employee, said. “They’re in their third generation now, so it is Grandpa’s grandkids that are helping out with things. And then they have little kids that we all keep saying, ‘some day, it’s going to be all theirs.'”

Grandpa’s Cheesebarn opened in Ashland, Ohio in 1978 with the help of Grandma and Grandpa Baum’s daughter Rhonda and her husband Dick. Grandpa Baum soon sold his store in West Salem, Ohio in 1991 so that he could be available full time.

“When we first opened up here, it was so cold in here, we had a little pot stove heater,” Grandpa said. “Cheese would freeze on the counter, and when there was nobody here, we would wear gloves. When a customer would come in, we would take our gloves off and wait on them.”

Grandpa considers himself a jack-of-all-trades.

“I work every place really, and with running the register and checking people out, that’s mainly what I do,” Grandpa said.

Today, Grandpa’s Cheesebarn features over 175 different cheeses, 12 homemade cheese spreads, salad dressings, jams and jelly, Ohio-made honey and maple syrup, pickles, meats, soups and scone mixes.

“At Grandpa’s Cheesebarn, they sell high quality cheese. You can get Swiss cheese anywhere, but this is perfected; he only buys the best quality,” Marlene Miller, a current emplyee, said.

Grandpa’s Cheesebarn includes many aspects that most people overlook.

Other than their well-known cheese, Grandpa’s Cheesebarn also includes a gift shop and café.

“Location was a big thing [and] the size of the property because they knew they could expand if they wanted to, plus the family lives on the property so they can keep it all nice and close together,” Turnage said.

Grandpa’s Cheesebarn includes many aspects that most people overlook. Other than their well-known cheese, Grandpa’s Cheesebarn also includes a gift shop and café which are both located on the bottom floor of the barn.

“When they first opened up the Cheesebarn upstairs, there were actually still farm animals in the bottom of the building,” Turnage said. “They’ve done a ton of work on it because obviously it was a barn and probably not insolated properly.”

The gift shop includes many joyful workers and seasonal gifts to fit the customer’s needs.

There are many displays, including Ohio State memorabilia, homemade jams and personalized souvenirs.

“There are a lot of nice people here; I enjoy working with the gifts,” Suzie Gortner, an employee, said. “You get to do a lot of moving around of things and just trying to display the things as nice as you can so other people would like to buy them.”

Christmas tends to be the busiest time of year for the gift shop since the shop offers many eclectic items and personal gift-wrapping.

“We have a little bit of something for everyone,” Gortner said.

Adjacent to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn, the farm is also home to Sweeties Jumbo Chocolates.

Sweeties has been connected to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn for ten to fifteen years and offers chocolates, candies and fudges.

As Grandpa spends most of his time in the Cheesebarn, Grandma spends most of her time at Sweeties.

When people make their way to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn, they may also get the opportunity to meet the infamous Grandma and Grandpa. One can see Grandma and Grandpa preparing fresh items, checking customers out at the register and displaying souvenirs on a daily basis.

“They pride themselves on making sure the products are what they would want to purchase,” Turnage said.

Not only does one get the opportunity to see Grandma and Grandpa as they carry on with family traditions, but a person may also capture a piece of Grandma and Grandpa in a souvenir photograph.

“Grandma and Grandpa, they’re my favorite,” Gortner said. “If you want someone for a grandma or grandpa, have a vision of someone in your mind, they are the perfect grandma and grandpa.”

For travelers passing through or individuals who just want to get away, Grandpa’s Cheesebarn also offers a bed and breakfast.

There are two suites offered at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn: the Apple Suite and Rose Suite. Each room has a fireplace, Jacuzzi, queen size bed, microwave, refrigerator, toaster, TV and DVD player.

“You can come in and enjoy yourself,” Turnage said. “There are samples of everything to try, but you get that friendly atmosphere, people want to talk to you and get to know you.”

At Grandpa’s Cheesebarn, the customer can interact with staff as if they were family. Each experience offers something unique from the variety of cheeses to the rare gifts.

“The atmosphere is warm, everyone is cared for and the customer comes first,” Miller said.

Grandpa’s Cheesebarn is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

It is, understandably, a popular tourist attraction for Ashland.

“It is a great experience because the help will always greet you and they’re one on one,” Grandpa said.

“A lot of businesses don’t even know you and don’t even talk to you, but here they talk to you and greet you with a smile.”