On Saturday night, my wife and I were visiting Toronto. My wife went out to a bachelorette party for her cousin who’s getting married shortly. I was left on my own to enjoy a night in the city. I made my way out and had a little sushi for dinner, and then I decided I’d splurge and enjoy a glass of wine at my favorite wine bar and perhaps even indulge in a little dessert (which I did by the way).

My wine was poured by the bartender, Monty.

Monty and I got to talking. Monty told me about his daughter, and I told him that we were expecting. Monty told me about growing up in Toronto, and I told him about growing up in a small town.

We started talking about business, and Monty told me that he and his wife had recently opened up an ice cream shop. He told me that he was both thrilled and amazed at how well their shop was doing.

This was interesting! I wanted to know more. I wanted to know how a bartender, working at an up-scale restaurant in Toronto, came to own and operate a small ice cream shop. I wanted to know how they got into ice cream, of all things.

He told me how it happened:

Both Monty and his wife, Tammy, had worked in the service industry. They often talked about opening a restaurant, but they weren’t too sure they wanted to take on the associated risks of opening up and owning a restaurant. I don’t blame him.

One day, Monty and his wife, Tammy, were walking down the street when Tammy noticed a vacant storefront. She peaked in the window and blurted out, “This would be a great place for an ice cream shop.”

I asked Monty if they had ever talked about owning an ice cream shop before and he wasn’t sure. He said that it might have come up before, but the idea really seemed to just drop out of the sky.

And that was that. Three months later, they were scooping ice cream.

It was as if his wife, Tammy, looked inside the store and could already see the two of them scooping away. It reminded me a lot of Michelangelo and the way he had approached a piece of marble. He would say that the sculpture was already there and he just had to chip away the stone around it.

OK, I know, maybe it’s a stretch comparing ice cream to Michelangelo… but maybe not as big a stretch as we’d like to think. As Monty said, the shop has been an absolute success and they simply love doing it.

The story of Tammy looking into the window and envisioning the ice cream shop really got me to thinking about the times I’ve had similar types of visions. I’m sure you’ve had them too.

For years, while growing up and traveling to our cottage with my parents, we’d pass this one spot. And every time we passed it, my father would make a comment and say “that spot is a great location for a little french fry shack.” A funny vision that we’d razz and give him a hard time about year after year. We’d say things like “did you remember your potato peeler.” We knew what he was going to say before he said it. One year, as we passed that spot – guess what was there? A truck serving all kinds of different snacks, including french fries. It wasn’t my father who had opened it, but obviously someone else also shared a similar vision.

Was it there all along and certain people could see it?

Tammy, sharing her vision was one thing, but the next part was the hard part, the follow-through.

Monty said there were plenty of  concerns during the planning. He said “I’d constantly be doing the math in my head….. OK – if we serve 200 ice cream cones one day, and only a hundred the next, is it enough?”

Eventually, Monty said they just had to trust it would work out and go for it.

Have you ever had a similar vision?

Did you follow through?

If it happens again, is it really worth just letting the vision pass you by?

What’s the worst that could happen, if you decided to actually follow through?

I did a little web searching and found a picture of Monty in his shop.

Next time I’m in Toronto, I know where I’m going for ice cream.


Carter’s ice cream (named after their daughter)