For anyone who has ever asked what to do Ludington, I’m positive House of Flavors has been mentioned and likely revered. I was one of the lucky ones that traveled to the quaint town with someone who had not only lived there for a lot of his life, but he was also a previous HoF server. This meant I had the insider knowledge of this magical little restaurant on my fall #MittenTrip.
I’ve heard from more than one source that no trip to Ludington is complete without a stop (or many) at House of Flavors. The staff is friendly and accommodating, the food is delicious, the decor is over-the-top in the best way, and there’s ice cream. All things are better with ice cream, and HoF is definitely one of those things. Rich with history, this isn’t just your average diner in your average town.
The story of House of Flavors starts in 1948 when Bob Neal, Sr. moved his family to Ludington, where he became part owner of Miller Dairy. Because of their production facility’s location near the city’s park, they renamed the joint venture to Park Dairy. It was here where the production of ice cream began, originally with just five flavors. They were still making milk, cottage cheese, and buttermilk at this time, and there wasn’t much focus on a change in business models until Neal’s business partner retired in 1959. That’s when it became all ice cream, all the time.
Within a couple years, Neal, Sr.’s son, Bob Neal, Jr., graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Dairy Technology (a reminder of MSU’s deep agricultural history) and returned to Park Dairy. The Neals immediately started transforming the production plant into a modern facility capable of producing 600 gallons per hour in a variety of flavors.
In 1964, the name “House of Flavors” was added, as their ice cream was becoming a staple in Ludington. In the mid-1970s, Neal, Jr. tried to expand the business by opening several ice cream parlors with some friends. This proved to not be as lucrative as the wholesale market and co-packaging business, which is now their primary focus. Fortunately not all of the parlors closed, so you can still get a taste of this dairy history at Ludington’s lasting restaurant.
As soon as I walked through the doors on a Sunday morning, I could sense the family-oriented, small-town nature of the restaurant. The menu has something for everyone, and if you get there before 10 AM in the fall, you’re sure to get a seat. After that? I wouldn’t bet on it. What I can vouch for is, standing or sitting, you can have your choice of a variety of flavors and styles of ice cream. It’s a dream come true and an absolute must for any trip to Ludington.
What are your fondest memories from a visit to Ludington’s House of Flavors or any of the other hometown favorites?