Carrying on a tradition of family entrepreneurship, Emily Cuddy plots a growing future for The Green Window
Photo: The Green Window owner Emily Cuddy
FROM THE SOUTHWEST corner of Queens and Clarence, The Green Window looks like a portal to healthy eating. The space is clean, white and Scandi-cool. But the rainbow-hued cornucopia of veggies behind the counter is the main course.
Emily Cuddy makes salads for Londoners hungry for a better diet of nutritious fast food. “We put a lot of love into our ingredients,” she says. “People can taste that when they come in. The quality is what makes us different.”
Cuddy knows that her salads are a bit more expensive than fast-food outlets because they make everything fresh including salad dressings. But her customers care about food as fuel. Many are fitness- or health-conscious consumers seeking peak nutrition; others require a custom meal. She strives to accommodate.
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“We have bowls that can have meat or maple tofu for vegans,” she says. “Our menu is changeable. We allow substitutions and understand diet is individual.”
Cuddy is a Londoner from a pedigreed food and entrepreneurial family. Her grandfather, A.M. (Mac) Cuddy, founded Cuddy Farms in 1950 and built it into a major international brand.
Kate Gielen, her late mother, was an interior designer, and her father, Peter, was in the organic food and bakery industries for decades.
“I learned the actual strategy and hands-on aspects of food from my dad,” she says. “He showed me some hard things about being an entrepreneur: That you have to separate yourself from the business and learn to walk away when things don’t work.”
Her mom’s business, Gielen Design, was a second home. “From a young age, I spent every weekend there. I helped with pricing and pulled discontinued samples,” she says. “I loved to be with my mom in the store. She was passionate, hardworking and was so good at what she did.”
Cuddy studied accounting, then switched to finance in the management and organizational studies program at King’s University College. She opted for a five-year program with an internship and went to work for the Canada Revenue Agency in Vancouver, then remained on the west coast and joined Lululemon Athletica.
In 2015, with her mom battling cancer, Cuddy returned to London, worked remotely, and eventually joined Lululemon’s CF Masonville Place store as assistant manager.
“I appreciated Lululemon’s support — they are great. But I work very hard, and it got to the point when I wanted to work hard for myself,” she says.
In 2018, she realized it was a challenge to find her favourite food — a fresh and tasty salad.
The Green Window at 201 Queens Avenue
She put together a business plan and shopped locations, including one she cancelled at the eleventh hour. Two weeks later, she walked by 201 Queens Avenue where health-food takeout business Hopscotch had just closed. She quickly renovated the space with her brother, Michael, and opened in July of 2019 with eight part-time staff and 24 seats.
“I did not do any marketing,” she says. “Downtown offices produce a lot of foot traffic and we had good word of mouth.”
Cuddy was just getting over launch-stage growing pains when downtown workers went remote in early 2020.
“We hired a social media manager and developed an online ordering system,” she says. “The province offered Digital Main Street grants to also help us pay for the system and printers. The investment in social media was critical to help us attract workers, Western students and school parents from around the city for takeout.”
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Finding her stride in the new world of delivery and takeout food, expansion is now in the works, with a second location — smaller and mostly to-go — currently under construction at 1850 Oxford Street near the West5 development.
In part, the new store is a response to Cuddy’s friends in Komoka and Byron, who constantly complained they were just beyond the Uber Eats delivery zone. She plans to be open at that location this spring. Mary Ann Colihan