Every great adventure comes with an even better story.
We sat down with owner, Sharon Cohn, to gain a little insight about the inspiration for Milk Dessert Bar.
How did you discover your knack for baking?
I started out making my Lace Chocolate Chip Cookies, and my family and friends went nuts. That’s when I knew that I could really turn a passion into a business.
When was your “aha” moment? As in, when did you finally decide you were going to open Milk?
I think it was after my mom passed away, and she kept telling me to do it. I was so scared, but after she died, I just felt like life is so short. I felt in my bones that I had a great concept, and sometimes, you just need to take the leap and do it.
Milk just celebrated its first birthday. *Yay!* What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned so far? Both inside and outside of the kitchen?
I’ve learned which months are busy and which aren’t, which is huge. I’ve learned owning a restaurant is a 24/7 job and how to trust my instinct. Most of all, I’ve learned to enjoy every minute.
What are two baking tools you can’t live without?
I absolutely cannot live without my mixer and my spatula.
What is your favorite item on the menu?
I love everything, but I think the cream cheese pound cake is my favorite. It was also my mom’s favorite as well.
In your own words, tell the story of Milk Dessert Bar. Who, what, when, where and what you hope to see in Milk’s near future?
When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to bake, and I always found it fascinating that she could maneuver around the kitchen because she was blind. I would sit there and just watch her, and she knew the exact measurements and knew where everything was located.
I worked as a hairdresser for 35 years, and I didn’t really start seriously baking until my forties. I mostly read about the chemistry of baking at first because I’ve always been curious about how things work. I just tried different recipes and put my own spin on them, and people really responded well. At first, I just took cookies and cakes to my friends, family and coworkers. Suddenly, people started to ask me to bake cakes and cookies for them, which opened the door to start working with fondant, and gum paste. That’s where the real fun and creativity began!
Throughout my forties, while I was still raising my three sons, taking care of my elderly mom and finishing my bachelors degree, I was trying to hone my baking skills. I had wanted to open a dessert bar in Memphis for a long time, one that was unlike any other, but the timing just never seemed to be right.
I came up with different ideas about what I wanted to see in the dessert bar. I was wanting to bring back vintage soda fountain ideas, but also wanted to put a modern twist on them. That's when the tagline, “classics meet the unexpected” came along. After I graduated with my bachelors degree, and my mom passed away, I just decided to go for it and get a brick and mortar. It was a yearlong process, but it was like everything in my mind finally coming to fruition. I, along with my sons and creative daughter-in-law, we decided on what would be a good variety for everyone and came up with a great menu.
I hope that Milk is a legacy for my kids. My son, AJ, his wife, Madii, and my youngest son, Matt, have moved here to help with the store. I want to build this business so that they have a future for themselves and their families.
I get so much joy when I see kids and adults alike light up when they come in and see all the crazy shakes, cookie doughs, and other goodies we have. Having a place where everyone can come, sit and talk, play games, and connect with each other without their phones and enjoy our desserts was one of my biggest goals. Seeing everyone laughing and having a great time warms my heart.