Oberweis Dairy plans to close plant, lay off 127 workers

The suburban dairy company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

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Oberweis Dairy Inc. will lay off 127 workers at its North Aurora plant, it announced after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company, known for its ice cream stores and milk packaged in glass bottles, notified the state that the job cuts will start June 11 due to the plant’s closure, in a filing under the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

Oberweis Dairy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Friday Oberweis filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in the Northern District of Illinois, court records show. The company stated it owed more than $4 million in total unsecured claims to its top 20 creditors, with its largest debt of more than $774,000 to a Hudson-based transportation company.

Oberweis employs about 1,100 people, including many part-time workers at its stores. In the summer, when ice cream demand peaks, its workforce often swells to more than 1,500.

The family business was founded in 1915 by Peter Oberweis, an Aurora dairy farmer who began selling milk from the back of his horse-drawn wagon, according to the company’s website.

It opened its first ice cream shop in Aurora in 1951. The company has more than 30 locations in Illinois, as well as shops in Missouri, Michigan and Indiana, according to its website.

It’s unclear if any of the ice cream store locations will close, but a court filing on Monday asked to continue paying employees wages and benefits. Otherwise, its workforce “will find other employment, at a time when the debtors need them most,” stated the filing.

Oberweis Dairy is owned by the family of Republican state politician Jim Oberweis.

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