It’s a wonderful thing when you run across an individual who has a passion and can combine that passion with a business connection that will allow them to make a living and enjoy life to its fullest. Such is the case with Michelle Mott, the new owner of Island Cheese Company.
Finding a place as special as Marco Island and successfully pulling together a business plan that would allow her to follow a love for the gastronomic delights dealing with cheeses, wines and other delicacies was a win/win for Michelle.
Having owned a salon and day spa for 16 years, Michelle was ready for a change in both the climate, lifestyle and professional life. “After I sold my business in Michigan, I would come down and spend 4-6 months in my parent’s condo,” said Mott. “I just loved cheeses and the other delicacies that accompanied them and saw there was a void in that area and began working on a plan that could accommodate my love of those foods, hence came the creation of the Island Cheese Company.”
She considered the Esplanade as a perfect spot for her business venture and settled on the property, which used to house the Starbucks Coffee franchise, before they moved to a free-standing building just 3 years ago.
Although they don’t “cater” parties for clients, they do custom assemble cheese and charcuterie platters for customers who desire to provide their guests with a special treat they will not find everywhere else. The combination of specialty cheeses, meats and condiments that complement each other is a delight that both Mott and her assistant Karen LaBonte enjoy creating for their clients.
Many of Mott’s clients know what they want but have had a difficult time finding an outlet to fulfill those desires. “Our customers want to provide their guests with a higher-end product, which prior to opening this shop was not available to them,” she explained.
Boutique wines, chocolates, specialty jams and other treats can be found throughout the intimate interior of their shop, in addition to specialty bread and crackers to complement the cheeses and meats. No alcohol can be consumed on the premise, but they have a wonderful array of wines to take home with your other purchases.
Mott is proud to show off her specialty French Baguette Bread. This bread is partially baked to about 80% of the normal cooking time, cooled and rapidly frozen. A customer may then take that product home and when ready complete the baking process, providing their guests with a fresh delightful offering.
They have a special tasting table for clients to sample many of the specialty imported cheeses in their friendly boutique shop. Karen, who shares the distinct title as a “cheesemonger,” can answer many of the questions for clients regarding the numerous offerings within the shop, as she is specially trained as an expert in her field. LaBonte is a graduate of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management School.
It appears Michelle and Karen are on their way to bringing the quaint appeal found on romantic streets of Europe to Marco and are working hard to bring alive the famous quote of Omar Khayyam, “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou.” In the meantime, they take it one step further with the best of cheeses and condiments.
They are located in the Esplanade Shops at 740 North Collier Boulevard and are opened from 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday 11 AM to 2 PM, but they are closed all day on Monday. You can visit their website at www.islandcheescompany.com.