Ivy Ronquillo had spent most of her working life alternating between the advertising industry and serving as a pastry cook.
But a discussion about two years ago with her husband about what they might want to do once they are empty-nesters helped her decide what she wanted to do in the short-term.
Ronquillo got a job for the Greenwich Cheese Company to experience the retail side of the specialty cheese business. During her time in the food industry, she had previously worked with cheeses, including under the direction of celebrated chef Terrance Brennan, who is credited with popularizing the cheese course in America.
During her time at the Greenwich Cheese Company, Ronquillo would interact with customers but when they asked her whether she was the owner, her heart sank – she wanted to say yes.
With a goal firmly in place, Ronquillo has opened her own business, Second Mouse Cheese Shop on Manville Road in Pleasantville about a month ago.
“So having my own place and being able to design what I feel is an inviting and welcoming and nurturing type of environment where people can actually learn about a pretty niche subject, I find it thrilling,” Ronquillo said.
Ronquillo typically carries about 60 different types of artisanal cheeses at any time in all categories, ranging from washed rind cheeses, which many supermarkets don’t carry, to semi-firm, firm, bleu and fresh varieties.
She will care attentively to her cheeses, taking each one out of its wrapper every day allowing it to breathe before re-wrapping it.
“We know this product very, very well and we care for it,” Ronquillo said, “whereas cheeses in supermarkets, they’re out there and they start off great but once they sit in plastic for a couple of days, they taste like plastic.”
Thus far, among Ronquillo’s most popular cheeses is anything from Lazy Lady Farm in Vermont, which has been flying out of the shop, she said. Then there’s the Reypenaer cheese, a variety of gouda that has been her best seller despite it going for $37.99 a pound.
The most unusual may be Cabrales, a Spanish bleu cheese, she said.
About half of Ronquillo’s customers have been coming to buy for their own consumption while the remainder find her inventory a perfect gift.
“We tell people buying it for their own consumption buy less more often,” Ronquillo said. “That way you get to explore.”
It also is a good way to prevent those cheeses with a much shorter shelf life from going bad, she said.
Second Mouse also carries a very small prepared food menu. For lunch, you can get – what else – a grilled cheese sandwich using various types of cheeses and breads. Patrons can also stop by for a cheese plate, which contains three different cheeses by milk type often presented with a different theme, such as having an American or European cheese plate. Each plate includes a baguette or crackers and is arranged with fresh fruit.
Since Second Mouse has a tavern license, you can choose to pair your cheese plate with a wine to sip. There are also a wide range of non-alcoholic beverages.
Ronquillo caters for events, but give at least 24 hours notice if you intend to order. Come the holiday season, she will require more time than that.
So far, the foot traffic on Manville Road has buoyed her business, Ronquillo said. The fact that it’s about a 40-minute trip to the closest specialty cheese shop and across the street from the Jacob Burns Film Center have been a plus.
“Things are going very well,” Ronquillo said. “They’re going much better than what I would have expected for the first few weeks. It’s been very well received.”
Second Mouse Cheese Shop is located at 351 Manville Rd. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 914-579-2909 or visit www.secondmousecheese.com or follow on Instagram and Facebook.