Before and after: Celebrating our Cedar Falls store renovationJune 8, 2022 10:09 am
By Meta Hemenway-Forbes, Hansen Dairy Marketing Manager
This year marks the 15th anniversary of our Hansen’s Dairy Cedar Falls store. It also marks the completion of an extensive renovation, and we’re excited to celebrate both with our customers at a Grand Reopening event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18. It’s been a long journey and we’re beyond grateful for the support of our customers along the way. See the details on our Grand Reopening Facebook event page. Let us know you’ll be joining us!
The vision for the revamped space was in place long before the first swing of a hammer. We opened our Cedar Falls store in 2007, one of three storefronts in the building at 123 E. 18th St. The Conoco gas station and the China Wok restaurant occupied the other spaces.
The Hansen family purchased the building in 2015 and became the building’s sole occupant soon after, operating the dairy store and the adjacent gas station. The vision to modernize the space, offer more local products and serve ice cream treats took root.
Renovations began in the fall of 2019 with the help of a local architect, local subcontractors, and Hansen family and employee labor. Remodeling during the pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Though the goal was to keep the store open while the walls were coming down, business was slow enough in the spring of 2020 that temporarily closing the convenience store side allowed us to complete the initial dirty work without disturbing customers. General contractor Jay Hansen, patriarch of the Hansen family, created an “order of operations” to keep the store functioning while transitioning to newly finished spaces.
During the 18-month project, every inch of the space was reimagined. Walls came down, uniting the space. Bathrooms were relocated. Point-of-sale systems were combined. Refrigerator and freezer space was expanded. Concrete was pulverized, redesigned and repoured. Large windows were installed where brick walls once stood. Gas pumps and signs were replaced. No detail was left undone, right down to parking posts painted to look like ice cream cones!
By May 2021, the first ice cream scoop was served. Our focus has always been local groceries — and now we have local menu items too. Our ice cream dip cabinet is front and center, showcasing the 20 flavors made in our farm’s creamery. We serve our fried cheese curds along with fast-casual hot food and subs. You can find Fat Cup and Sidecar coffees, Hurts Donuts, and pizza adapted from Papa D’s, a former pizzeria in Hudson and Cedar Falls. Take your food to go, or enjoy that cone or pizza in one of three seating areas: the east side, where murals hand-painted by Jordan Hansen flank a cozy fireplace; the west side, where a full-size photographic mural of the farm will make you feel surrounded by cows; or the outdoor patio. We aimed to make the space spacious and inviting, with a bright, cozy interior and fresh, modern exterior.
We sure appreciate our employees and loyal customers who stuck with us during the pandemic and a full renovation. At times it wasn’t pretty, but the end result is well worth it! We’d also like to acknowledge the local businesses involved with the project: Levi Architecture, Benton’s Concrete, Hudson Hardware Plumbing and Heating, Stickfort Electric, BK Flooring, Builders Select, Bowers Masonry, Midland Concrete Products, Stetson Building Products, Woodland Moldings, Iowa Glass Pro, Robert Miller Construction, Nagle Signs, Wilson Restaurant Supply, O’Donnell Ace Hardware, TC Construction, and Absolute Security.
A successful renovation is best conveyed with before-and-after views, so we’ve created an interactive experience showing what the store looked like previously and what it looks like today. Use the slider on the images below for a then-and-now story of Hansen’s Dairy Cedar Falls store.
To enhance the decor, we purchased many items from Fig & Frolic in Cedar Falls, like the pergola in the entrance to the seating area, the awning over the fountain drinks, and the pot rack to serve as a light fixture.
Patrons can enjoy a bright seating area thanks to a bank of windows on the east and north side of the building.
Most of the store’s tin ceiling panels were salvaged from a collapsed shed at the Hansen farm in Hudson. The panels and other farmhouse decor offer a relaxed and welcoming vibe in the east seating area, once occupied by the entire dairy store.
The hand-painted murals in the east seating area tell the story of the Hansen farm and the Cedar Falls store.
Customers purchasing convenience items or local groceries may now find themselves tempted by the 20 flavors of ice cream in the new checkout area.
The sales floor and refrigerator space was expanded to keep convenience items and offer more local foods.
The exterior got a fresh look with a Prairie-style barn entrance, accented with gooseneck barn lights, prairie-grille windows, a cupola and cow weathervane. The ice cream cone bollards hint at what’s inside.
In 2017, we switched our fuel from Conoco to unbranded. Now, we’ve gone back to our roots and rebranded as Conoco with new pumps and signage.