You might have noticed that the name Cloverleaf is pretty common at Renard’s Artisan Cheese. We’ve got Cloverleaf oils and balsamic vinegars, our homemade fudge is branded as Cloverleaf, and don’t forget our Cloverleaf Reserve cheese (a delectable blend of cheddar and gruyere). Our own Melt Bistro even serves a delicious Cloverleaf Club sandwich (yum!). Have you ever wondered why we’re so fond of the name? The answer is because it’s a nod to our past. Keep reading on to learn some fun facts about this connection.
If you’ve ever been to our Sturgeon Bay store, you might have noticed the white building right next door to the east. Long ago that building used to be Cloverleaf Cheese Factory. It was named after the road that runs just east of it, Cloverleaf Road. Before modern technology came along, it was common to refer to a business by its location. You’ll notice that our factory, Rosewood Dairy, is located along County S and (drum roll, please)… Rosewood Road!
In 1966 Gary Renard bought Cloverleaf Cheese Factory. Gary was the son of our founder Howard Renard, who had purchased Rosewood Dairy in 1961. Gary had quite the work ethic. He purchased the cheese factory 3 weeks prior to his high school graduation! Gary ran Cloverleaf Dairy (what is now the Sturgeon Bay location) while Howard ran Rosewood Dairy (what is now the Algoma location). At that time, neither location included a retail store.
The first Renard’s Cheese retail store opened to customers in 1975. It was located inside of Cloverleaf Dairy, that white building next to our current store. The door on the far side of the building was the store entrance, and the whole store was probably less than 1000 square feet. After customers made their selections, each block of cheese was cut to size. Fresh cheese curds were scooped out of the bin so customers could indulge themselves right away. Sometimes our customers still talk about memories of “the old store.” That building is now used as our Production facility, where our handcrafted cheeses are cut to size and sealed, ready to be shipped and sold around the globe.
When Chris and Ann Renard took full ownership of the company in 2012, they built a brand new, larger retail building that also included corporate offices, shipping/receiving, and a deli (now called Melt Bistro). If you’ve visited us in the last 10 years, you’ve seen the tremendous growth. While we’re excited to see what the future brings, the Cloverleaf name tips our hat to our incredible beginnings!