It might take Judd Rowse a few minutes to finally start working after he’s gotten to Cowpuccino’s for the day.
The number of ‘heys’ and ‘hellos’ rival only the number of ‘good mornings’ and ‘howdys’ for the Cowpuccino’s Coffee House owner, who by now probably knows the whole town by name, since it seems the whole town frequents the shop.
“This place has always been about so much more than a coffee shop,” Rowse said Friday morning at one of the varnished, wooden oak tables in the café.
“It’s such a hub kind of place.”
Rowse took over the building and business 18 years ago with a partner whom he later bought out three years later after she started a family and her husband relocated for work. It didn’t take much time for people to find it either, which was both a boon and a challenge for him.
“I always laugh because of our schedule [back then], we opened up and we were busy right away and popular and we were just basically phoning staff the next day, like ‘Hey, can you come back in? I think we need you,'” said Rowse.
The owner’s family has lived in Prince Rupert for three generations and his grandparents called Prince Rupert home from birth until age 98. His parents have spent almost their entire life on the island as well, and the outdoors was always something Rowse was accustomed to.
“I can get on my bike and pretty much get to the middle of nowhere in minutes. I couldn’t live in a city,” he said.
“After work I can go for a paddle board or a kayak and it’s just amazing; you can go across the harbour and find yourself with no view of the city and no sounds and you’re away from it all in minutes.”
Rowse’s family found some isolated spots that they could always come back to, featuring the usual staples of oceanside activities.
“Just across the harbour from the store here [in Cow Bay], we’ve got a classic place that my mom and dad used to go to all the time, it’s called Charlotte’s Beach and it’s really just a fun little cove … and there’s a rope swing and a forest and a salt lagoon.Back in the ’40s or ’50s, I guess there used to be a boardwalk and a diving platform and we used to have diving contests. Just amazing beaches,” he said.
Rowse, along with his running club 12 years ago, developed the framework for the Skeena Relay Race – the 142 km journey from Prince Rupert to Terrace, along Highway 16 that features 10 different stages of runners. The event filled up long before the race this past month, and has consistently seen 30 teams apply for the past few years.
“We came up with some races and as a group, we sat down and thought we probably should get a relay going along the Skeena and it’s been very succesful,” he said.
Then, 11 years ago, Rowse met fate outside his café’s doors when his now-wife Sarah was lingering at the storefront, having recently moved from Waterloo, Ontario to work after gaining an environmental degree at university.
“I was going to take her on a hike and it turned out to be one of the more gruelling hikes in the area and coming from the flatlands of Waterloo, it was a bit of an eye-opener for her … and of course we had our skis and it was the middle of the summer so she thought that was kind of weird,” said Rowse.
“She stuck with me.”
Now, the couple’s two little girls, Kasha and Leila provide them with different sorts of adventures, including hiking and trying their hands at biking for the first time.
“It’s been nothing but fun. It was definitely a challenge for the first year for sure with two of them but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s great, they’ve got a buddy all the time to play with,” he said.
As for the business, Rowse sees no end in sight for his Cow Bay coffee shop.
“It’s kind of a part of who we are and it’s just always been like that; trying to make people really happy by just giving them a good cup of coffee and good food and trying to keep them [feeling] positive throughout the day,” said Rowse.
“It’s just a laid-back place.”