Brent Murray, (L) owner of the Dairy Haus in Rockton, stands next to the Chuck Gilbert who opened the popular ice cream shop 38 years ago. Gilbert stopped by for the grand opening on April 28.

By Jean Seegers


For 38 years, customers have waited in line, eager to order their favorite ice cream treat at the Dairy Haus. A very popular, quaint little ice cream store at 113 E Main St. in Rockton.

And then along came COVID -19. Since the advent of the virus in November 2019, all restaurants and gathering places were forced to shut down, including the Dairy Haus.

Owners Brent and Meredith Murray were concerned that the iconic little ice cream shop would be forced to shut down and become another victim of the pandemic.

Brent decided to “make lemonade out of lemons.”

Since he couldn’t open his store, Murray opted to bring his high-quality ice cream to area grocery stores such as Woodman’s and Schnucks. Over the past year, through hard work and ingenuity, he turned the Dairy Haus into a successful ice cream manufacturing facility.

To increase the amount of product he needed to produce ice cream in larger quantities, Murray had to create a larger kitchen working space in the small building. To accomplish this, he needed to re-configure the space.

Fast forward to Spring 2021. The former customer ordering area is now part of the production space. But patrons can continue to stop by the store and choose from the huge list of hand-dipped, hand-made unusual ice cream flavors.

There is now an ordering window on the left side of the door and another on the right for pick-up. Murray said customers can enjoy all that hand-made, hand-dipped goodness sitting outside where benches and picnic tables under the pergola are provided. A sign board listing all of the flavors of hand-made ice cream will be posted each day.

The friendly staff of Hononegah and Harlem High School student workers will still be there to take your order, hand out ice cream and smiles. “Now we are going to come to you,” Murray said.

Tuesday, April 27, was grand opening day. Brent and Meredith were there to greet 50 to 60 kids and adults gathered in front of the store eager for that first taste of summer.

In the crowd was the founder of Dairy Haus – Chuck Gilbert and his grandson Charlie.

In 1983, Gilbert was an executive at Taylor Freezer in Rockton. The Company manufactured ice cream freezing machines and components around the world.

Gilbert has fond memories of his days at the Dairy Haus. “I had a bug to open an ice cream store,” he said. He purchased the little house on Main St. from the Talcott Library in 1983, installed a high- density commercial ice cream machine and opened the doors to what became a very successful business.

He sold the building in 1992, to Charlene Warrren and a few years later to Brent Murray’s mother, Anne. When Anne was ready to retire, Brent and Meredith stepped in and became owners.

Brent Murray never runs out of new ideas. Next up just might be an ice cream truck.

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