Q&A: #1069 Dawn Hendricks-Milhouse Entrepreneur

Nestled in the Noble Square – West Town neighborhood, M Vie Chicago has been a go to destination for good times and great food for just over three years.

As is known by all who have gotten a chance to experience what’s #BehindTheBrownDoor, Dawn Hendricks-Milhouse is the engine that makes the chic eatery operate at such a high capacity. Stop by on any given day and you’ll find the doting mother and wife at the hot spot not only running the place, but also taking part in the rich atmosphere that closely resembles the “where everybody knows your name” theme of the classic television series, Cheers.

In addition to her title as Managing Partner of M Vie, the Columbia College Chicago and Roosevelt University alum also serves as Executive Director of Milhouse Charities alongside her husband Wilbur C. Milhouse, President & CEO.

N’DIGO recently sat down with Hendricks-Milhouse to discuss her various endeavors and just how she manages to wear so many hats.

PrintHow did you get your start in the hospitality and restaurant business?


PrintMy journey began as a slightly stubborn 19 year old. After going away to the University of Arkansas and then leaving the school, I ended up back at home. Unfortunately for me (but really very fortunately), my mom wasn’t the ‘you can live off me’ kind at all. So I began looking for a job knowing one day I’d go back to school and I took my first serving job at Hemingway’s in Hyde Park. It used to share the space with Walgreens on 55th & Lake Park.


PrintYour restaurant, M Vie, recently celebrated it’s 3rd anniversary. What was the concept you had leading up to its opening?

PrintMy husband and partner Mr. Milhouse has always loved to entertain. We decided to extend our home to the public and share what we thought was a void in Chicago. By combining genuine customer service in an intimate atmosphere with the best gumbo in town, craft cocktails and jazz we could bring back the swag of Old Chicago.

PrintNeedless to say, things have worked out favorably as you’ve built a dedicated following. To what do you attribute its staying power?



PrintThus far we’ve had a few key elements that have helped us do what we do for as long as we have. Absolutely, God first. Also Mr. Milhouse’s entrepreneurial understanding, the consistency and quality of our brand, and simply supporting others. When you support others, they usually support you back. And lastly, a special shout out to our #KTLO crew.

PrintWhat’s the biggest lesson learned since opening the M Vie?


PrintThere have been so many BIG lessons actually. In short I’ll say owning and operating a business is a major sacrifice. To do so is quite humbling and it builds character. Lastly, I’ve learned that literally EVERYTHING matters.

PrintTell us about some the initiatives you’ve undertaken with Milhouse Charities?


PrintOur mission at Milhouse Charities is to make certain that underrepresented children have an opportunity to compete in higher education and a continually growing career field. We engage, promote and support so many established programs who really have a good understanding of how to educate and support our youth. MATHCOUNTS, Project SYNCERE, MILES DAVIS SCHOOL, CANstruction, and After School Matters are a few of the programs that Milhouse Charities is extremely pleased to support.

PrintWith all that you do, how do you effectively manage your time?


PrintI can’t say that I have mastered the effective time management thing just yet. As a Mother, wife, business owner, and friend I am a work horse. I only know how to get it done.

PrintWhat are your personal keys to business and life?D4-ndigo-chicago


PrintA few things that I always try to adhere to are: stay true to your brand, be willing to grow, LISTEN, have boundaries, make it happen, and treat everyone with genuine respect



PrintWho is one person you’d love to talk with over dinner?


PrintI would have to pick Sidney Poitier. I am the biggest fan of his work. His life story is completely amazing to me and I would have so many questions

PrintIn a movie on your life, if you could cast the actress, past or present, who would you want to play you?

PrintHands down, the late great and immaculate Lena Horne. I’d like to think I embody her strength, love of music, civil engagement, sassiness and perseverance. She was absolutely everything and way ahead of her time.

PrintName something about yourself that people would be surprised to know?


PrintQuiet as kept I am a total history buff. I am in love with history, legacy, and tradition.


PrintFavorite affirmation that you live by?


PrintSimply put….”God is!”


PrintWhat’s next for Dawn Hendricks-Milhouse?


PrintI have two books that I’ve been working on for years that I’m looking to complete in the near future. Getting those books done will be a big scratch off on my life’s to do list. Other than that I want to continue to grow Milhouse Charities and keep the party going with M Vie.

For more information on Hendricks-Milhouse, feel free to connect with her on Facebook and log on to www.milhousecharities.org and www.mviechicago.com.

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