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Ryan Wilman, The Owl

Updated: Oct 12, 2022


I’d just spent six years of my life pursuing teaching when it struck me that I wasn’t cut out for that kind of work. I had been my happiest when I was working as a barista at Starbucks.

I went to my wife and told her that I had a great idea. I wanted to open my own coffee shop.

The next day she presented me with a two-page single-spaced document filled with questions: Where? Who will you hire? What kind of coffee? How much do you care about ethics? Will you use recycled materials? What will you call it? What colors will you use?

Her questions channeled my chaotic energetic side into a reasonable business plan.

One day, after driving around scoping out properties in surrounding areas, we returned to Milan feeling defeated and hungry. We had no food in the house so we headed down Main Street to Kroger to pick up a frozen pizza.

That’s when we saw the BUILDING FOR SALE sign. Like, um—WOW!

We bought the building and opened a coffee shop—The Owl. That was eight and half years ago, in 2014.

I am technically the owner but we both like to call Cathy my silent partner. She’s been my biggest supporter from the beginning. She doesn't want to be in the forefront. She wants to let me thrive on what I do best and what makes me happy; running this business, following my passion, and being engaged in community.

I love owning my own coffee shop.

Teaching wasn’t for me. It changed my demeanor from being happy to being frustrated. I have so much respect for teachers. It is one of the hardest jobs imaginable.”

--Ryan Wilman

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