Campanile Connection

New dairy bar opens downtown

Dairy plant manager Howard Bonnemann takes his ice cream seriously. So much so that when it came time to name the new downtown dairy bar, he pooh-poohed the rather frolicsome Bunny Scoop in favor of the more solemn Campanile Connection.

His reason revolves totally around from whence the ice cream cometh.

“The registered dairy herd for the University is the Campanile Line,” Bonnemann explains. “Of all the registered breeding stock in the country, no else can use that name.

SDSU opens Dairy Bar in downtown Brookings.

“The herd’s been registered as the Campanile Line as long as I know, since at least the 1930s. All of our products are developed from the Campanile Line. The word ‘Campanile’ relates back to the animal. Each of those cows has three names: Campanile and two other names.”

That’s why, when the Brookings Chamber of Commerce first asked him in March 2010 if the dairy bar would be interested in locating downtown, Bonnemann not only envisioned an off-campus spot to peddle SDSU ice cream, he saw a more public place in which to tell the Campanile Line story.

Campanile Connection, at 503 Main, is across the street from the post office, between Sioux River Bicycles and Fitness and Gold Medal Gymnastics.
“Those little kids are looking as they go by,” Bonnemann notes optimistically.

The former coffee shop, known first as The Lodge, then Tailwinds, was closed for a year before opening as the dairy bar the morning of Hobo Day 2010, in time for the parade crowd.

“From an accessibility standpoint,” Bonnemann says, “to see us and get to us, this location will really work well. There’s on-street parking and parking lots a half block away in either direction.”

Wholesale accounts will remain on campus. Downtown will mainly offer ice cream, milk, and cheese. Coffee is sold by the cup and a soda can be had from the machine.

Carol Van Meveren, hired as a sales associate, manages the downtown dairy bar and the dairy majors who work there part time.

“She’s essentially the mom,” Bonnemann says. “We needed some continuity, someone to open every day and be here mornings, get it up and running, figure out what we need to order, do the finances.”

There were, of course, the proverbial hoops, like securing University and regental approval and dealing with lease regulations. But Bonneman says they were worth jumping through.

“It’s a win-win for us and the Chamber,” he says. “They’re trying to get some other type of draw on Main Street, especially on the north end, and felt we were an excellent fit with the [nearby] Children’s Museum opening.

“They’re also hoping it will be a method for them to track who’s coming through Brookings. They’ll use ice cream cards as identification items to track their marketing materials. That was part of their impetus in starting this.”

The Chamber of Commerce is looking into developing a system in which a card for an ice cream cone would be given to customers who mention to downtown business owners that they saw certain advertising material on a billboard or in certain print media that brought them into town. The card would then be redeemable at the Campanile Connection.

Each of the participating business owners would have cards available to hand out based on the customers’ response to the advertising.

And, as spring becomes summer and the giant ice cream cone continues to lure locals and tourists inside, Bonnemann hopes they’ll spend a few seconds checking out the storyboard and appreciating for themselves the connection between those two scoops of cookies and cream and, say, Campanile Diablo 312.

Cindy Rickeman

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