Small Business: Who knew Charlotte had cheese makers?

My first taste of Queen Charlotte’s Pimento Cheese Royale was at the NoDa Company Store opening a few weeks ago. My husband and I fought over who would get the last bite. John Morgan, maker of this delicious cheese, was there and saw our nearly empty container. We regaled him with compliments and left with his business card.

Morgan and his wife, Myers McKenzie, opened Queen Charlotte’s Pimento Cheese Royale in 2014. Morgan talks cheese and other good stuff for C5’s Entrepreneur Series:

Why is Charlotte a good place to start a business?

I see Charlotte as a wide-open expanse of possibility. In my experience with this, and other projects, if you’re a motivated, self-starter with a good enough product/idea, this community will rally behind you. There’s just this very real, palpable sense of civic pride that’s been bubbling up over the last few years, and I think that translates directly into the community support we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy.

Who has been your biggest influence?

My dad has easily been my biggest role model. He’s a creator and a builder; in another life I think he might’ve been an artist. His attention to detail, his persistence and his perfectionism have rubbed off on me in a big way. He’s my biggest supporter, but he’s just persnickety enough to keep me on my toes.

Photo 2 Credit John Morgan

How do you begin each day?

On cheese production days, I try to be up by around 4:30-4:45 so I can be at our kitchen in time to beat the morning rush. I like to be churning out that cheesy goodness by 6 so, if I’m lucky, I can be on the road delivering by midday. As for non-production days, I still try to be up by 6 (I was a teacher for 11 years…sleeping habits die hard), so I can get a good run/workout in before diving into the pimento-mania of the day.

What do you see in your future?

We get requests for our product from across the country on a regular basis. If everything continues as planned, we’ll be able to fill those requests within a couple years. We’re planning on expanding our hiring in a pretty big way over the next year or so, and hopefully growing our distribution network along with it.

Photo 3 Credit John Morgan

Where do you go in Charlotte when you need to chill?

Due to the fact that a lot of them carry our cheese, I’m lucky enough to have direct access to some of the coolest chill-zones in the region. I’ll literally plan my delivery routes around ending up at Rhino Market, Tip Top or The Company Store.

Photos: John Morgan