Brian Ehlenbach

Third generation owner of Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet

Meet Brian Ehlenbach

How long have you been in the cheese business? I’m third generation owner. The store’s been under the Ehlenbach name for more than 50 years. I even met my wife at the store. This was her first job, we were both young kids. My two managers are my sister-in-law and my nephew.  We take customer service and product quality seriously and we only carry Wisconsin products.

How did Sissy the Cow get her name? Sissy got her name from my grandmother Lucille whose nickname was Sissy. As she was one of the founders of this family business it only seemed right. Sissy the Cow was trucked here from Sparta, Wisconsin in the 1960s to be the guardian of our front entrance and to symbolize the importance of America’s Dairyland.

Describe the cheese aging operations at Ehlenbach’s. We age cheddars and swiss cheeses on site. Our oldest cheddar is 15 years. All our smoked cheeses are smoked here using a high-end smoker we purchased, and we do that to control the quality. We have our own cheese spread line too. 

Most popular cheese? Our top sellers are aged cheeses. Smoked gouda is popular too. The Bourbon BBQ cheese curds are a big seller. And the smoked string cheese that we smoke with cherry wood…I can’t tell you how many pounds we sell!  

What do you love best about the community? I like that we’re so close to Madison, but you have some separation. I’m not a city person, so I like the quiet of this community.

Why do you think it’s worth it for travelers to get off at Exit 126? If you’re looking for tranquility before you get to your destination or you’re coming from the big city, venture out to the Yahara River Trail. Peace and quiet…why not take it when you can! 

Favorite cheese? I am an aged cheddar lover. Over the years and after all the cheese I’ve eaten, it’s difficult to go back to the milder tasting ones. 

Favorite slice of Norske Nook pie? Butterfinger pie, no hesitation! 

When you’re not at work, what are you enjoying in the area? We’re an outdoors kind of family, so my favorite thing to do is to walk the trails. And fishing too.

Back to the Group

Bruce Stravinski

Retired owner of Shell gas station, home to Pinkie the Elephant statue

Learn more about Bruce

Lydia Gaston

Server and manager at Norske Nook restaurant 

Learn more about Lydia