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Buon appetito!: Dina Mia stays true to time-honored Italian favorites

Business spotlight

Jim Paul/Daily News photos Ally Ofsdahl works a variety of tasks at Dina Mia Kitchens in Iron River and calls herself the future CEO. Her parents, Jeff and Jolene Ofsdahl, purchased the business in May 2023.

IRON RIVER — For more than 50 years, Dina Mia Kitchens in Iron River has prepared and packaged frozen pizzas, lasagna, spaghetti sauce and other items to become a favorite in the western Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

The business enjoys a large following and frequently ships its products from Florida to California and everywhere in between.

Dina Mia Kitchens was established in 1971 by Leonard (Bobby) Scalcucci and his wife, Diane. The name Dina Mia translated means “My Diane”. Scalcucci would eventually transfer Dina Mia Kitchens to his daughter and son-in-law, Linda and Peter Saving, who sold it to the Fritz family in 2007.

In May 2023, Dina Mia Kitchens would be purchased by the Ofsdahl family of Crystal Falls — Jeff and wife Jolene, along with daughters Anna and Ally. Jeff Ofsdahl said a casual conversation at a fundraiser set the ball rolling to eventually take ownership.

Jeff Ofsdahl manages the day-to-day operations and Jolene Ofsdahl is marketing director. When not in school, Anna and Ally help in a variety of tasks.

Jeff Ofsdahl displays items available at the Dina Mia Kitchens factory store.

Jeff Ofsdahl is a native of La Crosse, Wis., and has spent the past 20 years in retail management work for companies such as Festival Foods and Kwik Trip. Before purchasing Dina Mia Kitchens, he worked at Angeli Foods in Iron River and was there during the transition to Super One Foods. Ofsdahl said his experience in retail prepared him well to now be on the vendor side of the business.

Ofsdahl said patrons need not worry about the change in ownership — the beloved recipes remain the same.

“Everything we do here is top notch; it is all homemade,” Ofsdahl said. “The products are great — great recipes, great ingredients and the people working here take great care.”

Ofsdahl said that their first year was about taking care of the customers during the transition and the second year will be about potentially expanding their market.

Most of the changes Ofsdahl made involve the storefront at the production facility, including expanded hours. In addition to Dina Mia products, there are locally made products such as barbecue sauce and maple syrup and they now offer fish at the store.

Lasagna is among Dina Mia Kitchens’ most popular frozen dishes.

Dina Mia Kitchens distributes its product in roughly a two-hour radius around Iron River and is expanding a route to the Green Bay, Wis., area. Ofsdahl said he would eventually like to see Dina Mia Kitchens products available in all of Michigan and Wisconsin.

“I am excited for the growth that I know we are going to have, where our Green Bay and Fox Valley distribution can go in that area and where we can expand further,” he said.

There was just one change to the product line — the popular lasagna now comes in a 96-ounce family size that is available in select Iron County stores, with the aim of eventually increasing the market range.

The pizzas and lasagna are Dina Mia Kitchens’ most popular items, with the sausage pizza being the biggest seller, Ofsdahl said on a given day they can crank out 1,200 pizzas or 1,500 lasagnas. Other items made at Dina Mia Kitchens include ravioli, gnocchi and spaghetti sauce. The sausage used in several products is available in bulk or link form as well.

Dina Mia Kitchens employs 18 people, including the plant manager, delivery driver, meat cutter and the rest on the production team.

Dina Mia Kitchens on Fourth Avenue in Iron River employs 18 people.

“(The Dina Mia name) represents quality Italian products. The entire team takes pride in knowing what they are putting together,” Ofsdahl said. “We want everyone to have a great experience.”

Dina Mia Kitchens keeps active in the community by letting their products be sold as fundraisers. In addition, they support the Locker Lunch program that provides weekend meals for children in need.

“It helps assist local organizations to raise funds for their programs while simultaneously giving those people who are purchasing the products something that is really worthwhile,” Ofsdahl said.

Dina Mia Kitchens is at 751 N. Fourth Ave. in Iron River. The factory storefront is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Dina Mia products can be found in most grocery stores and convenience stores across the area.

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