Occupation: general manager of The Market at Washington and High
Family: Married to Jennifer Adams, and they have one son, John Cooper Adams, 2.
Mike Adams grew up in Oak Ridge and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Fine Arts degree with the intention of pursuing a career related to art. While he studied print-making and other forms of art in school, the genre that he excelled at was culinary in nature.
“I always thought I would be an artist, but the whole time I was doing that in school, I was always doing something with food and cooking,” he says. “By the time I got out of school, I couldn’t find a regular job, so I went back into the restaurant business. I worked hard and excelled.”
Adams worked in the kitchen at Sullivan’s in Knoxville before moving to Boston to be with Jennifer, his girlfriend at the time. “Then the owner of Sullivan’s called and asked me to come back. That’s how I landed in Maryville. I was going to manage that restaurant, so I bought a condo in Maryville. My neighbors were Mark and Linda Brackins,” he says.
After working with Sullivan’s again, he went to work in the kitchen at Brackins’ Blues Club for two years before developer Dan Mizell asked Adams to come be general manager at what would become The Market at Washington and High. When Mizell first took Adams to walk through the building that would be the Market, Adams said he knew he had a challenge in front of him.
“It was a disaster. There was water standing in the floor, and everything was falling down. It was a hole-in-the-wall,” he says. “I talked to my wife about it, and I told her this would be different from anything I had ever done. Then I jumped in with both feet and loved it.”
The Market has been in business two years. Adams says what keeps him coming in each day is building relationships with customers. In the restaurant business, Adams says he spent his days working with food. Now he spends his days working with customers. “Here I get the whole spectrum of the experience.”
Here is Mike Adams:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“From ‘Deadliest Catch,’ Edgar Hansen says, ‘Check your feelings at the door.”’
What are you guilty of?
“Stealing a pack of gum from White Stores when I was 5. I had to return the gum and apologize to the manager. It turns out that the manager’s wife now watches my 2-year-old son during the day. Small world.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My old scratched and beat up 1993 Nissan pickup truck.”
What are you reading currently?
“Glenn Beck’s ‘Overton Window’ and Dave Ramsey’s ‘Financial Peace.”’
I still can’t quite get the hang of…
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“I would say the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont. I really liked the mornings when we would wake up and have our breakfast and go spend a quiet time. I would always hop on rocks to get to the middle of the river. I would sit out in the middle of the river and draw. It taught me a lot about nature and doing the right thing.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“Do a burn-out through all four gears with my Dad in his 1970 Nova SS, with me driving of course. Spend a week camping and fishing with my son. Spend a week in Boston with my wife, son and his wife, and then take them to the Ladera resort in St. Lucia. My son is only 2, so that may be down the road a bit.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Funny. I was always cutting up as a child and teenager. I never lost my sense of humor, and I try to look at the positives in life and live on the light side.”
What is your passion?
“I love the outdoors, fishing, spending time with my son. Currently, I would say it is The Market at Washington and High. I have poured my life into this business.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“I would have to choose my brother Jimmy. He was killed when I was 18. I would like to get his take on my life as he sees it from above.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“The key to my new Husqvarna riding lawn mower.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“To think before you speak and always do what your heart tells you.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“In sixth grade, my Mom had convinced me that Spandex was in style. I wore a red and black pair of Spandex bike shorts and a T-shirt to school. I will never forget it.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My wife and son. They are my reason for everything I do, and everything I don’t do. I walk the line for them.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“I would go back to the Old West, tour the country, marvel at packs of buffalo and untouched wilderness. Then I would go to California before the Gold Rush, hit it big, and then bury the gold.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
“Kind of. I have personal accounts, but I do not have the time to keep up with them. ”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“I have never had a bad job, because they have all taught me something. The hardest job I ever had was bailing hay.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
“‘Scooby-Doo.’ It started my passion for food. Watching them create crazy sandwiches three feet tall was a real inspiration.”
What irritates you?
People that park in handicap spaces when they are not really disabled.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Change majors, save 15 percent of every dollar you earn, trust yourself and be skeptical of people who think they have all the answers.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Not being successful.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?
“Stop what I am doing right now, grab a fishing pole and spend the rest of the day on the Little River fishing for smallmouth bass.”