“We don’t want to change The Milk Shed. It’s perfect as it is,” new owners, husband and wife team Rob Whitaker and Maggie Levien explain.
Sitting amidst a busy lunch-time service at the Weston on The Green cafe, its numerous customers are blissfully unaware of the seismic changes in the management.
On the shop floor at least its business as usual with the same brilliant kitchen team (Daryl, Andy, Vic, and Marion) as well as the front-of-house gang – Di, Kelly and Lizzie.
“The Milkshed is more than a cafe, it’s a thriving community hub”
Indeed, the food and ethos remains resolutely the same, that gorgeous Cornish influenced Mediterranean sunny food being enjoyed all around us.
In fact, the only thing missing is the founder Lucie Ellis, who has moved back to Cornwall, selling the business to Rob and Maggie, careful to pick the right applicants to take over her beloved Milk Shed.
“After an amazing 9½ years we were over the moon to find Rob and Maggie to take over the business. They love the vision, and with the support of our incredibly talented and brilliant team, can continue to keep the dream alive so that our lovely loyal customers can keep getting their fix of Milk Shed visits for years to come.
Looking for a new challenge, and having visited The Milk Shed on numerous occasions since moving to Oxford from London three years ago, Rob and Maggie couldn’t believe it when The Milk Shed was put up for sale.
“there won’t be any big changes, we want it all to be about The Milkshed, not us”
“We met Lucie three times and we understood that it was more than just a business,” Rob says, “and we don’t want to change that, just to build on it and make a few subtle changes such as improving the outdoor space, and updating the retail stock.
“But otherwise it’s business as usual and we love the buzz here every day.”
The Milk Shed won our Best Cafe award in 2020 and 2022, and since opening in 2013 in the little known former ice cream parlour, has had crowds flocking for its famous pancakes, scrambled eggs, coffee, club sandwiches and smoked haddock chowder (the list goes on and on).
But hailing from Cornwall originally, and buying a house there last year, Lucie has been spending increasing amounts of time there, safe in the knowledge that her stellar team could run it without her.
Which is why Rob and Maggie knew it was a viable proposition – The Milk Shed could already stand on its own two feet with the staff staying on to carry on Lucie’s legacy.
“We really love it here,” Maggie tells me, “and just have to remember that Lucie chose us to take it forward. So there won’t be any big changes, we want it all to be about The Milk Shed, not us.”
“we just have to remember that Lucie chose us to take it forward”
“The Milk Shed is more than a cafe, it’s a thriving community hub, and we want its customers to carry on having that great Milk Shed experience,” she adds.
In the meantime Rob is learning the ropes, training as a third sous chef and washing up when they need an extra pair of hands. “I just want to help things to run smoothly,” he says, “We get such a buzz from seeing it full and everyone happy.”
Which fittingly leaves Lucie with the last word: “Huge and heartfelt, emotional thanks to everyone who has been a part of this roller-coaster of a journey, building and running The Milk Shed for all these years; the team, customers and suppliers. It has taken the support and love of every single one of them.
“I wish Rob, Maggie and all the Shed Massive all my best wishes for a fantastic future at this very special place”
The Milk Shed is at Manor Farm, Northampton Rd, Weston-on-the-Green, OX25 3QL https://www.themilkshedstore.uk