Mill Creek Gardens a mecca for local ice cream lovers

August 5, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Everybody has a dream, a goal they would like to achieve in their lifetime. For some, it’s a big house in Florida, with enough money to never worry again. For others, it’s becoming a corporate giant, launching a small business, travelling the world, or living off the land in a small community.

But for one local man, that dream was serving ice cream, and having a place where the community could gather and have a social atmosphere. From that dream, Mill Creek Gardens was born – an ice cream business that serves Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream; the kind of ice cream that can make even the least ice cream-obsessed person crave a weekly dose.

Since opening it at the beginning of summer, owner Dennis Middlebrook has found business has mushroomed, and it’s rare to show up during the evening and not be faced with a line of customers.

“It’s been going super-fantastic; it’s awesome,” he said. “We haven’t done any real advertising – all of the attention has come through either Facebook, or word of mouth – it’s been great.”

The idea for Mill Creek Gardens first came to hime about five years ago, when Dennis and partner Mary Marques started developing the concept. They began looking around the area, identifying potential spaces for the business. The former Flight Deck building (now Soulyve), was one potential space, until they saw their location adjacent to that building on Little York Street.

“When we walked into this one, I just saw my vision coming to life immediately,” explained Dennis. “We looked inside, saw the space, saw the backyard with the creek, and we knew that this was it. I went home that night and drew a sketch of what we wanted to create, and we are still following that sketch today.”

Although originally they weren’t going to open until the interior shop had been completed, Dennis and Mary decided to bring their coolers outside and launch Mill Creek Gardens outdoors. Business began to boom right from the get-go, and having everything set up outdoors has allowed patrons to witness the progress of the development day-by-day.

“There weren’t so many questions before we opened up, about what the plans were with the renovations we’ve been doing with the building,” said Dennis. “It was when we got our vendor stand up and put out the ice cream and a sitting area that people started really asking questions. We knew we really have to get this done.”

Anyone who has taken the time to sit and talk with Dennis, Mary and Dennis’ son James, knows what an incredible vision the family has for their place. The building, which doubles as their home and business, will include the ice cream shop in the lower level, complete with a mini-cafe serving coffee, desserts, soups, salads an sandwiches. There will also be a ‘walk-through’ window for those with animals.

“We’re putting in a takeout window,” explained Dennis. “We have so many people come through that are walking their dogs, so they will still be able to order and spend time there.”

On the middle level, Dennis is currently constructing a beautiful wrap-around deck, and eventually, outside they will be setting up gardens, a gazebo and a bridge over the creek for people to come and enjoy. The more they share their dream, the more excited their patrons get.

“It’s more enjoyable for us to see everyone getting so excited,” added Dennis. “It’s amazing the questions that come out of people; they want to know everything about our plans. People can’t wait to experience [it all], and that atmosphere is tremendous.”

Their goal is to provide more than just ice cream; they want to provide a beautiful setting for people to enjoy – to experience an escape from town in a place they can socialize, enjoy nature, and enjoy the surroundings.

“What makes us happy is when the community is happy,” said Dennis. “We call them our family. Most days when we’re getting close to closing, we just chat with the people that are there.”

Mary added that even though they are retired, when all is said and done, and the dream is fully completed, they’ll still be working long hours, but it will be by choice.

“When we come in, we like our jobs, and it shows,” said Mary. “If we are here after 10, it doesn’t bother us, because of the atmosphere we have here. If you love what you do, it’s not a job, it’s a part of your life.”

While they may still have quite a ways to go before everything is completed, it’s evident that they’ve brought something to Orangeville that has become quite a hit, and is continuing to grow in popularity.

“We really have to thank the community for everything so far, as well as the local businesses on Mill Street for welcoming us the way they did,” said Dennis. “They came to us, shook our hands and welcomed us to the community. We want to thank them for all of their support.”

To follow the progress of Mill Creek Gardens, check out their Facebook page at or pay them a visit at 3 Little York Street.

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