During its 85 years in business, change was inevitable for Wallace Dairy.
But after all that time one constant remains, a focus on serving the Idaho Falls community.
“Wallace Dairy opened in 1929,” owner Angie Wallace said. “It started out as a regular dairy, producing milk and cheese. It continued to grow over the years. By the 1950s, it was serving 1,250 customers. Now, we don’t have a dairy or anything like that. We’re a restaurant (but) it’s nice that we still have a place in the community after so long.”
Today, the business at 860 E. Sunnyside Road sells sandwiches, homemade soups and an assortment of desserts. Wallace became part of the dairy’s family 40 years ago, when she married Owen Wallace.
“When I got married, the dairy was selling milk and serving homemade ice cream,” Wallace said. “I suggested that we start selling cheese. A few years after that, we started the sandwich thing. I thought serving sandwiches and soup would be a great way to bring in more customers. That way we weren’t just focusing on one thing.”
The 78-year-old Wallace said the business transitioned from a dairy to a restaurant around 1985. Operating the dairy had become too expensive, she said, so the change was made. Wallace is the only full-time employee, she employs three part-time workers for the lunch and dinner hours.
Popular items on the menu include chicken panini, a braised-beef sandwich and a beef sandwich with peppers and onions, Wallace said. The restaurant also offers homemade soups, pies and cookies, as well as Reed’s Dairy ice cream.
“I like making good food and keeping people happy,” Wallace said. “It is rewarding to me, knowing that people like the food and like coming to the restaurant.”
Ammon resident Jessica Sanders enjoys the food and said she tries to stop by a few times every month.
“I like coming here,” Sanders said. “The sandwiches are really good. They use good ingredients and the restaurant is actually really nice, too. They have a nice area to eat in and it’s really well lit.”
Business ebbs and flows, but lately, Wallace said things have been going well.
“We have been selling a lot of ice cream since school let out,” she said. “The start of the year was a little slow, but it’s been picking up recently. There still are slow days, the hardest part is just not knowing how many people are going to come through the door.”
To celebrate its 85-year history, Wallace is planning a special sale.
“I’m not sure when I’ll do it,” she said, “but I’d like to have a day where we sell sandwiches, ice cream, soup all for 85 cents.”
Wallace still enjoys the challenges of running her own business and said she has no plans to retire anytime soon.
“I’ll probably keep working for as long as I can,” Wallace said. “I’m a people person and feel like I’m happiest getting to meet new people and interact with them. This is a great way to meet people.”