- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Some of the best news we've heard all winter - The Milk Maid is opening Friday and Saturday evenings until 10 p.m. in downtown Owen Sound. We sat down with owner Cody Hawes to talk about the business and its growing place in our city.


Cody went to work for then-owner Jennifer Smith when The Milk Maid Fine Cheese and Gourmet Food was only a few weeks old. (For the curious - Jennifer has now happily returned full-time to her massage therapy practice, delighted that her young business is in such truly capable hands.)

scone1As she took over sole-proprietorship of the Milk Maid this year, Cody had to think "how do I do everything?" She crunched the numbers and considered her personal goals for the business and decided that it was the full lunch menu that had to go. "We still do grab and go sandwiches and I can always put a delicious something on a fresh baguette."
For those who are lunching in, she says "A glass of wine would go well with that cheese board, don't you think?"


The Milk Maid sells exclusively Ontario wines, and Cody says this is a political choice. The industry creates $4.4 million in economic activity annually, and provides 18,000 full-time equivalent jobs. Right now her wines come from Prince Edward County and the Niagara region, but she is looking at expanding the options for customers who want to share by the bottle.


Cody is grateful for the supportive women in business in Owen Sound. Beth Milne and Emily Leonard of Casero Kitchen were the first to come bearing gifts to celebrate when she decided to take on the business. She believes Mudtown Station, another local business opening this year with the skills of a young female brewmaster, will make "another incredible contribution to downtown". After all, she says, "Where do you think I am going after work?"


The weekend evening hours will give Owen Sounders another option for a a quiet place to enjoy the company of friends after work, or a glass of beer or wine and a shared cheese and charcuterie board before a show.


Cody grew up in Hepworth, went to university in Guelph and spent some time in Halifax. When she first came back to the area in the winter of 2012-13, she could not find a single job to pay the rent, so she headed back to Guelph. The generous owner of "With the Grain" Bakery and Café gave her the opportunity to learn to cook and bake from scratch. But Cody missed the bay, and the affordability of living in Owen Sound was a real attraction. She and her partner live in an apartment in a big beautiful old Victorian house downtown. "You can only live unsustainably - or like a student – for so long."


Cody predicts Owen Sound will experience its own boom as the population and costs rise to the south, east and west of us. "We will get caught in the net from some direction or other", as people look for a balance of affordability and quality of life. For now she recognizes that people have to consciously pursue their networks here, but she's happy to leave behind the "facelessness" of bigger centres.scones


The Milk Maid has lots of growth potential. Catering has its own seasons, and the warm space, with its 30 person capacity, welcomes events and private parties. The Owen Sound Wine Club met in the Milk Maid until their membership outgrew it. The open kitchen space is ideal for workshops, and Cody intends to expand that beyond the signature scone-making.  Pastry? Cheese-choosing?


Cody would like the Milk Maid to be known as a downtown coffee shop as well. The wi-fi, the espresso machine, the afore-mentioned scones – (get them while they last or call ahead to order) – and the ever-available brownies make Milk Maid so much more than a cheese shop.


photo credit: John Fearnall





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