The Dairy Store has been serving up scoops and smiles to students and families on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus since 1917. What started as a small shop that offered all-you-can-drink milk for a nickel has since grown into a go-to spot for handmade ice cream in Lincoln.
Now, the store has made the move to a larger, modernized area on the north side of Filley Hall and the Food Industry Complex.
The move is one of the first steps toward the university's Legacy Plaza project, a central green space expected to serve as the focal point for activity on East Campus.
Legacy Plaza will be surrounded by the new Dairy Store location and Massengale Residential Center, along with the revamped Nebraska East Union and C.Y. Thompson Library.
Manager LeRoy Braden said he is excited to see a campus landmark like the Dairy Store usher in a new era for East Campus.
"It's going to be fun to see the big picture unfold," he said.
The Legacy Plaza Project launched in 2015 under the direction of UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, who at that time served as vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Braden said construction for the new space began three to four months ago, but he never noticed any lapse in business.
"There were no hiccups," Braden said. "I don't feel like we lost any business off the move."
Even in its new location, which requires customers to follow some winding hallways to find the store, Braden said business is running smoothly.
"This place is hopping pretty much throughout the day," he said.
While the new location offers a modern take on the store that's been part of UNL's culture for over a century, change often comes with some obstacles. For Braden, one of the chief complaints he's received from customers is accessibility.
The store is located further inside the building than its previous location, which directly faced the East Campus Loop. It's a concern that Braden said has been passed along to people within the university.
"I was slightly worried at the beginning, parking and accessibility are still something we want to address," he said. "We don't want to feel like we're excluding anybody, but we have had some complaints from some about it being a farther walk than normal."
Coinciding with the Dairy Store's new location, ice cream and cheese production is moving to the Food Innovation Center at Nebraska Innovation Campus. Braden said the move could inspire new products for the Dairy Store, such as protein shakes or yogurt.
For Laura Nelms, a senior at UNL and three-year employee at the Dairy Store, the new location allows families to experience East Campus from a different perspective.
"Before, families were only able to access from the street, so they weren't able to see what East Campus had to offer," she said. "I think that East Campus is kind of a hidden jewel, and now that you access it from this side of the building, you have more opportunities to go into campus and do different things."
Nelms said the Dairy Store and East Campus capture the essence of Nebraska because of its history and the connections it creates with those who visit it.
"A lot of families will come in and be like 'Oh, my grandpa used to come here and he would get this certain flavor' or 'I worked here in college in the ’80s,'" she said. "It's kind of a historical thing that people can come back and reflect on."
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Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-473-7214.
On Twitter @noahjohnson1996
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