The best time is anytime for Dairyhaus ice cream


Brent Murray, owner of the Dairyhäus in Rockton, hands an ice cream cone to a customer.

Ice cream lovers from the Stateline area and beyond rave about the cold creamy perfection of ice cream from the Dairyhäus in Rockton, IL. So much in fact, that Brent Murray, owner of the Dairyhaus,  was presented the “Illinois Made” award by John Groh of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) and the Illinois Office of Tourism, on May 4, 2023.
Unique, Illinois-style creativity set the winners apart.

“The Office of Tourism celebrates small businesses that focus on unique locally made products,” Groh said.

In addition to Dairyhaus, the Rockford Art Deli, Rockford Roasted, Fire Department Coffee, and Barnstormer Distillery were also awarded.

“It’s great to be recognized,” Brent said. Coincidently, Dairyhaus is celebrating 40 years in business right now.

“We make the best possible ice cream we can make. Everything by hand: the ice cream, frozen yogurt and cones. I want coming to Dairyhaus to be an experience customers won’t forget.”

“I believe no one gets where they are going by themselves. At Dairyhaus, we depend on our friendly employees to make it happen. It’s been me and the kids (high school students) until two years ago when we hired four adults.”

Brent and his wife Meredith bought the business from his mother Annie Murray about 15 years ago. “I was 14 years old and a student at Hononegah High School when I started working here in 2008.”

Chuck Gilbert, who worked at Taylor Freezer at the time, was instrumental in the development of the company’s small-batch ice cream machine. He wanted to learn all he could about the ice cream business. With the encouragement of the company, he purchased the quaint little 1854 Greek Revival/Gothic Revival limestone building at 113 E. Main Street. The building, owned by Talcott Library next door, was up for lease. The doors to Dairyhaus were officially opened on Memorial Day weekend, 1983.

After a few years, Gilbert sold it to Charlene Warren who operated Dairyhaus for six years.
Warren sold the business to Annie Murray and her family. When Annie retired, she offered Brent and his wife Meredith the opportunity to purchase the ice cream shop. The couple had been living near Chicago at the time. “Both Meredith and I jumped at the chance to come back to Rockton and follow in my mother’s footsteps. The Dairyhaus has been under Murray family ownership for a total of 26 years,” Brent said.

For many years, customers squeezed into the tiny service space to order their ice cream. All of the ice cream products are made in the back portion of the store. It was clear to Brent that the space needed to be re-configured.

Now customers order at a window on the left side of the building and pick up at a window on the right side of the building.

Two years ago, the Murrays bought a house at 116 Green Street, behind Dairyhaus. In a few years, the house will become the ice cream production location. “However,” Brent said, “the Dairyhaus ice cream shop will always be at the Dairyhaus location.”

“It’s important to me to make Dairyhaus a place for people to come. I’m so lucky and privileged that people want to spend time with us.”

Dairyhaus expanded their product line a few years ago. The ice cream is now available in quarts at several area locations: Schnucks grocery stores, Woodman’s in Beloit, Rockton Food and Spirits, Sugar Britches in Rockton, Edgebrook Plaza, Rockford Roasters, Embassy Suites in Rockford, and Edwards Apple Orchard in Winnebago. New this year are five-ounce cup, single-serve ice cream.

Look for Dairyhäus ice cream at special events and locations including Rockton River Market. After all, summer isn’t really summer without ice cream.

John Groh, RAEDC Director, presents an "Illinois Made" award to Brent Murray, owner of Dairyhäus in Rockton, on Friday, May 5th. The award is given to area small business owners for their unique and creative Illinois-style that sets them apart. (L-R) Rockton Mayor John Peterson, Brent Murray and RAEDC Director John Groh.
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