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Gourmet grilled cheese concept goes brick and mortar with SBA business loan

April 11, 2019 | Small Business Loans
business loan restaurant, Gourmet grilled cheese concept goes brick and mortar with SBA business loan, CDC Small Business

What screams American comfort food louder than an ooey-gooey, pull-apart grilled cheese sandwich?

That’s hard to top. And no one understands this better than the guys behind Bread & Cheese, a San Diego-based caterer of gourmet cheesy, carby concoctions.

Co-owners Justin Frank and Devin Gneiting made it their mission to reinvent the grilled cheese. Instead of traditional white sliced bread and Kraft cheese, they use top-quality sourdough bread, cheese and toppings to create client favorites including their Classic Cheese, Reuben and Cali Gold.

After amassing quite the fan base throughout San Diego County, their next culinary conquest is opening a brick-and-mortar location in a long-awaited food hall in North County.

To finance the project, they turned to community lender CDC Small Business Finance for help. Discover how an affordable SBA loan through CDC helped Frank and Gneiting fund the buildout and equipment for their future restaurant.

‘Chase your dreams or you’ll get paid to chase someone else’s’

Frank and Gneiting go way back. Their parents were friends, which meant they spent a lot of time together, from baseball games to sleepovers. Eventually they forged their own bond.

They’d go on to different universities. But after graduation, they reconnected while traveling the world and working for a travel company. After exploring the globe-trotting for years, they both decided to settle down in San Diego and look for jobs.

Frank went the food-industry route while Gneiting worked as an event planner. After traversing their respective career paths, they converged again when they decided to create Bread and Cheese Catering.

“After many years of working for other people, we both decided it was best to try it on our own,” Frank said.

“I was always inspired by the quote,”he added. ” ‘Chase your dreams, or you’ll get paid to chase someone else’s.’ ”

Their key to success: ‘Divide and conquer’

business loan restaurant, Gourmet grilled cheese concept goes brick and mortar with SBA business loan, CDC Small Business

Devin Gneiting, left, and Justin Frank, working on a recent weekday.

The dynamic duo started the business in 2017 with the vision of creating the best grilled cheese you’ve ever had. They replaced the cheap, flavorless White bread and lackluster yellow cheese with top-notch ingredients, from locally sourced sourdough bread to real-deal cheddar.  

On a typical menu board you’ll see inventive items including the:

Over the last two years, the business partners have grown Bread and Cheese into a recognizable brand by working the festival and brewery circuit. Thanks to their smart “divide and conquer” strategy, they now employ 15 people to handle 15 events a week out of tents, Gneiting said.

Funding a restaurant build-out, equipment

business loan restaurant, Gourmet grilled cheese concept goes brick and mortar with SBA business loan, CDC Small Business

Bread & Cheese co-owners Justin Frank and Devin Gneiting.

You’ve likely driven by the structure on Interstate 5 in North San Diego County. Hard to miss, Carlsbad’s iconic windmill building has sat empty for many years…but not for long.

Developers are transforming the space into a  food hall — and thanks to a loan from CDC Small Business Finance, Bread and Cheese will be among the 11 vendors.

business loan restaurant, Gourmet grilled cheese concept goes brick and mortar with SBA business loan, CDC Small Business

Stacey Sanchez

When the chance to join the food-hall roster came along, Frank and Gneiting knew their grilled-cheese concept would be a great fit. The problem was lack of business capital to fund the build-out of their 250-square-foot space and their equipment.

A friend, who’s also a small business owner, referred them to Stacey Sanchez, a senior loan officer at CDC, for that extra push toward the right path.

Related: How co-working hub used loans to fund extensive construction costs

Sanchez ensured they were ready to take on this financing, from having a solid business plan to staying organized throughout the loan process, Frank said. 

They most appreciated the fact they could ask Sanchez anything and she would respond accurately, quickly and patiently.

“She helped us through the whole process and answered all our “stupid” questions,” Frank added. “But she didn’t make us feel stupid about it. We were really happy to find (CDC).”

“Our dreams were going to come true, and we couldn’t have done it without CDC,” Gneiting added.

Looking for a restaurant business loan? Some tips for you:

Sanchez, a veteran in the small business lending industry, offers this advice to anyone who’s entering the food business and is in the market for a small business loan.

Know your lease inside and out. The lease is critical. Know what you are signing, ask for expert help when you can, and sometimes, paying an expert will save in the long run.

Keep your financial records current. If there are delays, you may be asked to provide updated information even after you have been approved for a business loan.  

Be responsive. A lot of business loan applicants will wonder how long the process will take. That largely depends on the business owner and how quickly they respond to the request for documents along the way.

Are you ready to chase your dreams of starting your own business?

CDC Small Business Finance has been helping entrepreneurs launch and expand their operations for 40 years and counting. We offer several affordable loan options that can meet your needs.

Tell our loan experts about your business, and they’ll work to match you with a financing plan that best suits you. Let’s talk! Reach us at loaninfo@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8667.

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