Furloughed Man Sets Up Cheesecake Business After Making Cake For Girlfriend's Lockdown Birthday
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Mike Jones was working as a service advisor for Audi when the pandemic kicked in, and, like many others, found himself on furlough with very little to do.
Being stuck at home with no work, a bored 'Big Mike' turned to the kitchen - though it soon dawned on him that he couldn't continue scoffing 'breakfast sandwiches every day' and eventually decided to channel his passion for food into cooking for others.
Speaking to LADbible, he said: "I had all this time on my hands and I was just bored and pottering about. We'd just moved house so I built a bar in my garden, but after that I was still bored and I was eating a load of food and putting weight on.
"Then it was my girlfriend's birthday in May and obviously everywhere was more or less shut. So I was like, 'You know what? I'll make her a cake for her birthday', because we couldn't do anything, I couldn't take her out or anything like that.
"I made her a rainbow unicorn cheesecake, which I'd seen someone else post online. We took some round to family - dropped it off like a little food package. Everyone loved it!"
Word quickly spread among the local community, and it wasn't long before everyone was asking for cheesecakes from 'Big Mike's Fat Kitchen'.
He decided to create a range of 10 different flavours to send out to friends and family through Instagram and Facebook, selling 'about 600 cakes' in just a couple of months.
By the time summer rolled around, Mike's bosses at Audi told him they were ready for him to come back.
"I had to make the decision whether I wanted to carry on with [the cheesecake business] or go back to work," the 6ft 3 dessert maestro said.
"I'd never really been happy working for anyone else, and business was what I wanted to do so I put my notice in."
Having stuffed four fridges into his kitchen to cope with the demand, Mike realised he couldn't keep churning out so many cheesecakes from his home, and put his name down on a shop on Carlton Hill and renovated it.
He continued: "It's been non-stop ever since. We've been selling out every day and getting loads of attention."
He now has two full-time staff members working alongside him, while partner Jess Graham also helps out when she can.
Mike said the support has been 'amazing', with customers queuing up daily to get a fix of his cheesecakes, including best-sellers like Biscoff and Mint Aero.
In fact, things have been going so well that he's already looking to expand or even move premises, before hopefully opening more shops.
He said: "The kitchen that I've put in it is already too small for us.We open at 12 every day and most of the time we're sold out by about half past 3 - maybe a little bit later sometimes, depending on how busy we are.
"But ideally I want to be open and give cake to everyone who turns up - it's not nice to go down a queue and telling people, 'Right, we're sold out, come back tomorrow'.
"I think the next stop is to either have a little shop renovation and make the kitchen here a bit bigger, or start looking for a bigger kitchen that I can rent out.
"I think in the long run that's probably the best way to cope, because I do want to open another shop and take it as far as I can."
Follow Big Mike's Fat Kitchen on Instagram.