Mothers Day is almost here. Our gift and apparel shops, floral boutiques and restaurants are buzzing with excitement as we make those final plans for how we’re going to show Mom just how much we love her. Here at York Durham Headwaters, we want to celebrate all moms, but especially those unsung heroes—the moms who are absolutely crushing it at both being a mom and a business owner. We want to showcasing these YDH working moms who effortlessly balance the joys of motherhood with the joys of entrepreneurship… at least, they make it look effortless (how do they do it?!). Meet the Badass Moms of YDH.
Christy Stone – Piano Inn and Café
The Piano Inn and Café is a charming establishment located in three heritage buildings in downtown Port Perry. The inn is run by owner Christy Stone-Curry and her husband Rob, and the buildings have been in Christy’s family for over fifty years. When she was in her late twenties, Christy took on the challenge of opening up what she thought would be a little coffee shop, but what twenty years on is one of Port Perry’s favourite eateries.
“At that point in time, it was a three-generation labour of love,” Christy says fondly. “And it turned into a four-generation labour of love when we had our son.”
Operating a bustling eatery and being a mom is no easy venture. It was one that Christy had to navigate and adjust as she went along. “The café was open seven days a week for, like, fifteen years,” she recalls. “Then one day I realized that I was missing stuff with my family, and my husband was doing the majority of the home things like taking our son, Matt, to karate, and making dinner.”
To be able to devote more of her time to her family, Christy and her husband decided to shut down the café on Sundays. “Best decision I ever made,” she states. “Now we know that we work during the week, and Sunday is family day. We’re only open Tuesday through Saturday from eleven until about four or five, depending on the season.”
She adds, “I was nervous about the Sundays. In the summertime, I used to open on Sundays just for the season, but I fought against it this year. In fact, I used to make sure that we didn’t go anywhere near the restaurant on Sundays, because I didn’t want to drive by and see the crowd of people waiting to get inside—it took a little while for people to realize we weren’t open on Sundays. But this time is precious. Matt’s already eight, and there is not a lot of time left where he wants to hang out with his parents.”
It is with great pride that Christy is able to state that the Piano Inn and Café is now truly a four-generation business, with the restaurant opening Matt’s Ice Cream Shop. “All four generations have now had something to do with the restaurant,” she explains. “During the pandemic, we had an empty space in the building. It was my son who suggested we should sell ice cream, since the restaurant was closed. I agreed that I should do that, and told him I was going to name it after him, and he said, ‘Okay.’ And it was all just a big joke.” But then, Christy got to thinking, and realized that an ice cream shop was actually a great idea, since kids are typically the ones who drive families for that type of activity. With the beautiful patio right out front, the idea just made sense, and the ice cream shop was a great success in its first year, summer of 2021.
“This season, we’re going to be having Matt’s Ice Cream open every night until eight o’clock, and we’re going to be using the out-front patio that we have for the café at lunch on Queen Street,” Christy explains. “That’s cool because there’s nowhere else that has that. Plus, the café is licenced, so this is like a pop-up through the Piano Café.”
While the café is not open on Sundays, Matt’s Ice Cream will be. Christy says, “I open the ice cream shop because it’s less labour intensive… even though it’s the first year we’ll be giving it a real go. Last year we didn’t invest in it as much. We had a freezer and kept it small. But this year we’ve invested in the shop, in equipment, and we’ve branded it. Plus, because it’s minimal labour, I don’t have to be there.”
The experience has been wonderful for Christy and Rob’s son, who now gets to be a part of the business that his parents work so hard at. “It’s cool because Matt gets to see what it takes to do a job like this—it’s not a job where in the evening time we’re all home,” she says. “He also realizes that we depend on the people who work with us, and that with a job likes this comes a lot more freedom. Most importantly, he really gets it that everybody knows everybody in a small town, and we have a responsibility to make sure that we are setting a good example in our little corner. He’s only eight, but he gets it. In the wintertime we have him out there helping us shovel snow, and in the summer, he waters the plants and does different things like that.”
Now, if that isn’t an example of a great Badass Mom doing great Badass Mom things in business and in family life, we don’t know what is. Hats off to you, Christy, and to you, Matt: the youngest entrepreneur in Port Perry!
Piano Inn and Café
217 Queen St., Port Perry
Story by Katherine Ryalen