NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) -- After 100 years in Central City, Brown’s Dairy will close its milk processing plant on Baronne Street, resulting in the loss of 185 jobs as the dairy relocates its local operations to Hammond.
The dairy, which was founded in New Orleans in 1904 and known for many years as Brown’s Velvet, is now owned by Dean Foods, based in Dallas.
A spokesman for Dean Foods on Tuesday confirmed that the Baronne Street milk processing facility will close.
The move will eliminate approximately 185 positions at the plant in New Orleans. Production will be phased out over the next several months, company spokesman Dustin Cox said.
“We will certainly make everyone aware of open positions throughout Dean Foods and encourage them to consider applying,” he said in a statement.
The plant, which opened in the 1960s, receives up to 15 tankers of raw milk each day. It processes and distributes regular milk, chocolate milk and buttermilk, as well as fruit drinks and mixes. Its distribution area includes Louisiana, south Mississippi and south Alabama.
Cox said the plant closure is a result of a need to “enhance manufacturing capabilities in the area.”
“This decision was made after a careful review of the facility and how we can best support our customers in the region,” Cox said.
A significant portion of the production will remain in the state at Brown’s Hammond facility, Cox said.
|“We regret the impact that this result will have on our employees and our community. The decision to eliminate jobs in any part of our business is never an easy one. This move does not reflect the quality of work performed by our Brown’s Dairy employees, but the need to enhance our capabilities,” he said.
A 1960 newspaper ad touted Brown's new "6-acre, fully air-conditioned plant" on Baronne Street, billed as one of the most modern and efficient in the country. Its distribution area spanned the Gulf Coast. Dean Foods acquired the dairy in 2000 and changed its name to Brown’s Dairy, but retained the tag line “Smooth as Velvet.”
Dairy founder Benjamin C. Brown came to New Orleans from his native Canada in 1904 and established a small ice cream plant the following year at St. Charles Avenue and Polymnia Street.
The original business employed about four persons who cranked ice cream by hand, using crushed ice and rock salt. As Brown's ice cream operation grew, the business moved to St. Charles Avenue and Terpsichore Street, and then to 1300 Baronne St., where it opened in 1915.
In the early years, Brown's Velvet packaged its ice cream in "bricks," rectangular boxes better suited for the icebox refrigerators of the day. Later, the product line grew to include milk, Creole cream cheese, whipping cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, buttermilk and eggnog.