When Etta Sawyer first opened the Academy of Culinary Arts on Bayview in 1971, it was on the west side, and mostly a cooking school with around 200 students a week enrolled, and with only about 20 sq. ft. of retail space.
Laurie Oehy started working part-time for Etta during high school, and continued while completing her degree in psychology and criminology, with an eye to studying law.
But instead, Laurie decided to join Etta and bought half the business in 1982, the year before they moved to their current location on the east side of Bayview, with a retail store. Laurie took on full ownership when Etta died in 1987.
Fast forward more than three decades. When the landlord announced the store would need to be closed for four to six weeks this spring to accommodate major repairs to the property, Laurie decided this would be a good time to retire. In all these years, she has never been away from the store for more than 10 days – even for the births of her two children. Now, she can set her own hours to spend time at the cottage, travel and visit her grown children out of town.
Laurie laughs about the long-time customers who have come into the store since the announcement was posted in the window, bemoaning that they won’t be able to find “whatever.” As she says, “It’s not as if I’m closing a hospital!”
So, drop in at least one more time to say goodbye to Laurie before the store’s closing sometime in April.