Dairy Store relocation celebration

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dairy Store employee serves a free scoop of ice cream at their new location on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dairy Store held its relocation celebration on East Campus Thursday despite UNL’s decision to switch to online classes after spring break in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

A long line of students, faculty and families still came to the celebration at the new store located at the north side of the Food Industry Complex. Michael Boehm, vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the event would already have been memorable because of all the months of hard work and planning it took to organize, and the news about the coronavirus also made it memorable in a different way.

“I was already prepared to remember this day for the rest of my life, and it just got a big punctuation mark,” Boehm said.

Terry Howell Jr., executive director of the Food Processing Center, said it was scary when everyone started reading the email earlier that day. Boehm and Howell said everyone seemed to have a lot of questions and concerns over the email and the proceeding of the celebration. 

Despite the concern, Howell said the store continued with the celebration since UNL didn’t alert them to cancel, handing out free ice cream at the event on Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. Although the location officially opened months ago, the celebration was to recognize the store’s finished renovations.

The old store at the south side of the Food Industry Complex was smaller than the new store. Additionally, the new store includes murals on the wall and modernized sales systems like an upgraded menu board, according to Howell. He said the murals were provided by Midwest Dairy, a marketing and promotional group that’s associated with the dairy industry, and they provided all the artwork on the walls.

Boehm said some of the future plans for the Dairy Store include adding parking spaces for customers and adding a splash pad for kids outside of the store.

The Dairy Store relocated primarily because of the East Campus’s growth, Howell said. He said moving to the new location has been a great experience since there’s more room to serve clients and potential to grow with an outdoor seating area. 

Howell said the celebration was a way to expose people to the new store. He was excited to debut a new flavor called Tractor Test Toffee in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab. 

Howell said he hopes the store will become a hub on East Campus, but also be a place to support the dairy industry in Nebraska and beyond. 

“I remember the Dairy Store right across the way, but this building wasn’t always here,” Boehm said. “I think a whole lot of people remember the Dairy Store being over there, but I think a whole new generation of people will remember the Dairy Store being here.”