Dairy Cottage: The history of a Brookville icon

June 21, 2024 at 9:23 a.m.
Current owner Jamie Lee, left, and Gary Shaw.
Current owner Jamie Lee, left, and Gary Shaw. (photo provided)


Dairy Cottage, iconic for its fried chicken and Jojos, started as much less than the restaurant it is now. Elvin and Helen Beaver came from Richmond and began the small soft-serve ice cream stand in October of 1958. However, they retired from the business in 1969, selling the Dairy Cottage to Gary and Nina Shaw. The new owners began to expand not only the line of products sold, but the stand itself.

Gary and Nina made some major changes to the Dairy Cottage that are still beloved by customers today. When the couple first purchased the Dairy Cottage, it was just a small walk up ice cream stand that also sold burgers and hot dogs. However, in 1972, a fryer was added. This opened up a whole new world of menu options, which in turn added a dining room to the structure. Various recipes for fried chicken and Jojos were tried, until the most liked one was finally settled upon. After a while, the famous “G-Boy” or the “Gary Boy” was added to the menu as well.

During this time, high school students would walk from Brookville High School to get lunch. For many years, the Dairy Cottage would open at 5:00 a.m. to serve breakfast; many locals would come in for breakfast and coffee together. Sale barn days were especially busy for breakfast. Sadly, the original building burned down in the fall of 1994, but was later rebuilt. Orange and pineapple sherbet were added to the menu after this.

With any restaurant, difficulties occur with the menu; Dairy Cottage is no different. Keeping the chicken in stock was never easy, especially on summer holidays and weekends. On a busy weekend, they could sell upwards of 300 chickens. The syrups for most of the ice creams and the coleslaw were made from scratch, making them easier to stock.

Dairy Cottage was then sold to Michael and Dave Holman, family friends who worked at the Dairy Cottage throughout high school and college. The Holmans didn’t change much from the menu, except for adding the now fan favorite pineapple sherbet. Lime sherbet was also tried, but it was not as well received, and didn’t stay on the menu. 

Michael liked the challenge of running the restaurant, finding it fun and enjoying the satisfaction of a job well done. Owning with his brother had its advantages and disadvantages, but the pair continued to keep the restaurant thriving. However, struggles were not obsolete. Staffing was the largest issue faced, specifically in the last five years of ownership. Other struggles, such as keeping the chicken stocked, were solved with the addition of a larger chicken cooler.

Many different workers came and went at the Dairy Cottage during the Holmans’ ownership, but Michael saw them as family, not just employees. During the 26 years that he owned the Dairy Cottage, he saw five different couples meet who ended up getting married. But after 26 years of 15 hour days, 349 days a year, the Holmans eventually had to sell. The brothers had great memories, but were ready to move on and try something new in life.

The Dairy Cottage is now under new ownership, continuing the traditions that Gary and Nina Shaw began all those years ago.


Dairy Cottage, iconic for its fried chicken and Jojos, started as much less than the restaurant it is now. Elvin and Helen Beaver came from Richmond and began the small soft-serve ice cream stand in October of 1958. However, they retired from the business in 1969, selling the Dairy Cottage to Gary and Nina Shaw. The new owners began to expand not only the line of products sold, but the stand itself.

Gary and Nina made some major changes to the Dairy Cottage that are still beloved by customers today. When the couple first purchased the Dairy Cottage, it was just a small walk up ice cream stand that also sold burgers and hot dogs. However, in 1972, a fryer was added. This opened up a whole new world of menu options, which in turn added a dining room to the structure. Various recipes for fried chicken and Jojos were tried, until the most liked one was finally settled upon. After a while, the famous “G-Boy” or the “Gary Boy” was added to the menu as well.

During this time, high school students would walk from Brookville High School to get lunch. For many years, the Dairy Cottage would open at 5:00 a.m. to serve breakfast; many locals would come in for breakfast and coffee together. Sale barn days were especially busy for breakfast. Sadly, the original building burned down in the fall of 1994, but was later rebuilt. Orange and pineapple sherbet were added to the menu after this.

With any restaurant, difficulties occur with the menu; Dairy Cottage is no different. Keeping the chicken in stock was never easy, especially on summer holidays and weekends. On a busy weekend, they could sell upwards of 300 chickens. The syrups for most of the ice creams and the coleslaw were made from scratch, making them easier to stock.

Dairy Cottage was then sold to Michael and Dave Holman, family friends who worked at the Dairy Cottage throughout high school and college. The Holmans didn’t change much from the menu, except for adding the now fan favorite pineapple sherbet. Lime sherbet was also tried, but it was not as well received, and didn’t stay on the menu. 

Michael liked the challenge of running the restaurant, finding it fun and enjoying the satisfaction of a job well done. Owning with his brother had its advantages and disadvantages, but the pair continued to keep the restaurant thriving. However, struggles were not obsolete. Staffing was the largest issue faced, specifically in the last five years of ownership. Other struggles, such as keeping the chicken stocked, were solved with the addition of a larger chicken cooler.

Many different workers came and went at the Dairy Cottage during the Holmans’ ownership, but Michael saw them as family, not just employees. During the 26 years that he owned the Dairy Cottage, he saw five different couples meet who ended up getting married. But after 26 years of 15 hour days, 349 days a year, the Holmans eventually had to sell. The brothers had great memories, but were ready to move on and try something new in life.

The Dairy Cottage is now under new ownership, continuing the traditions that Gary and Nina Shaw began all those years ago.


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