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California

Broguiere’s Dairy in Montebello ‘closed until further notice’ after nearly 100 years in business

Broguiere’s Dairy drive-thru milk stand in Montebello
Employees at Broguiere’s Dairy drive-thru milk stand in Montebello help a customer in June.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The beloved family-owned Broguiere’s Farm Fresh Dairy in Montebello may be finally closing after serving fresh milk in iconic glass bottles for nearly 100 years.

“Closed until further notice” signs reportedly appeared at the dairy’s drive-thru milk stand on Maple Avenue this week following a saga of will-they-or-won’t-they closure rumors that began in late May when the supermarket chain Gelson’s announced that the dairy was permanently shutting down and that the market no longer would receive shipments of its milk.

Although the dairy never made an official statement regarding its future, owner Ray Broguiere Jr. told NBC-TV Channel 4 in May that high costs and strict state regulations were the driving forces behind the decision to close.

The news ushered in an outpouring of support from customers who flooded the milk stand to buy out their glass bottles and pleaded on social media to keep the operation going. In response, Broguiere Jr. told KCET-TV Channel 28 in June that he was exploring options that would keep the dairy alive.

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But last week, customers began posting to the dairy’s Facebook page, noting that Broguiere’s products were missing from local stores. Commenters said signs appeared Monday alerting visitors that the business was closed for the foreseeable future. The dairy also is listed as closed on Yelp.

Whether the decision is final is unclear. Neither the dairy nor Broguiere Jr. have responded to repeated requests by The Times since initial reports of the closure in May.

“I’m so sorry for this loss for the community of Montebello,” wrote one Facebook commenter from Orange who said Wednesday they were first introduced to the milk in 1994. “In my entire life I had never tasted milk so fresh and clean. ... But now I’m at a loss of words to hear I will not be able to buy it ever again. ... May we always have the memory of pouring that delicious milk out of your famous glass bottle.”

Members of the dairy’s loyal customer base have long stopped by the milk stand decorated with cow-like black-and-white splotches for its creamy white milk, rich chocolate milk and holiday eggnog. The dairy stand, which has a small selection of groceries and dry goods, dates back to 1920 when Ernest Broguiere, a French immigrant from the Alps, purchased a lemon grove on Maple Avenue. When his lemon business failed, he bought a Holstein cow and some glass bottles and started selling milk door to door using a horse-drawn wagon.

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Ernest’s son, Ray Broguiere Sr., took over the business in 1965, and Ray Broguiere Jr., the dairy’s most recent owner, took over for his father in 1975. Broguiere Jr. told The Times in 2001 that he planned to pass the business on to his son, Chris.

Over the years, Broguiere’s milk has been sold at specialty grocery stores, such as Gelson’s, Pavilions and Mayfair, and at supermarkets such as Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. The dairy once processed organic milk for Whole Foods stores in Southern California.

Broguiere’s was a nostalgic window into the past when more than 100 dairies in Southern California sold milk in glass bottles in a state that has long been a leader in dairy production.

Although designs varied, the thick old-fashioned bottles all carried the dairy’s logo featuring a cartoon line-drawing of a cow saying, “Milk so fresh … the cow doesn’t know it’s missing.”

Times staff writer Maria Elena Gaona contributed to this report.


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