Co-Owner of Cheese Please
If you like cheese, wine and George Clooney you may have already met Michael Jones and you’ve probably visited Cheese Please (and if you haven’t, go!). But did you know that he started out in the corporate world and first moved into business ownership with Pondscapes? After working for Florida Power for 12 years, Michael decided corporate life wasn’t his passion and in 1993 opened Pondscapes. After that, Michael decided to indulge his love for cheese and convinced partner Carlos to open a cheese store within Pondscapes. Four years ago they moved locations and opened Cheese Please on MacDill Avenue. Hear what Michael has to say about loving what you do, owning a business and yes, George Clooney.
1. What is the most interesting thing about you or your business?
Me??? Nothing, just a boy from South Alabama. Cheese Please has been a revelation to me in that until immersing myself in the business I never knew how much it changes week to week and month to month. Cheese is very seasonal. Many are available only a few months a year, most cheeses, unless mass produced, are changing with every wheel totally dependent on the weather leading up to the milking of the animals…So in the business of cheese, you can’t totally count on anything and it keeps you on your toes. Never promise a specific cheese for a cheese tray when it is a week away nor for a special tasting event…go with the flow.
2. What makes business ownership worth it to you?
I rarely have a day where I don’t look forward to going into work. And with owning the business, if the business model started to bore me, hopefully I could adjust or tweak it enough to keep me enthused. With the business being such an integral part of my life, I love having this control over my work.
3. Describe your typical day.
The first few hours of everyday are spent on my hair, then I head out to the gym for one hour (I know it looks like I spend 8 hours there) and eventually I open Cheese Please by 10 am. Wheels of cheese arrive several times per week and each must be sampled (thank goodness I still love the taste of cheese) and then sliced for selling. All day long we sample cheeses and condiments with clients walking in the door. The phone never stops (ordering cheese trays, reservations for the cheese tastings on Friday and Saturday nights) and usually George Clooney and Brad Pitt check in once or twice per day. By 5pm the bar, appropriately called Clooney’s (yes I have a mad crush on him) kicks in and between the retail, Clooney’s, and the tasting room we usually get out of here by 11 pm… and I spend a few more hours on my hair while catching up on the Housewives of New York.
4. Would you ever trade running your own business for a 9 to 5 job?
Every once in a while I think about less responsibility but I think I like making decisions. No, don’t think I can go back.
5. What advice would you give to someone considering business ownership or entrepreneurism? Are there certain skills or traits they need to be successful?
Passion, passion, passion. Too many people approach us all the time from a business standpoint only. I think the business would wear you out quickly if you did not love it. My successful friends all love their businesses.
6. Why do you think you’re successful? What does success mean to you?
Success to me is paying the bills and then relaxing with the clients and enjoying each experience they bring in.