How SCORE helped. 

In June 2021, new clients Nina Holland and Rob Gnirk met with Seacoast SCORE mentors Peter Kamford and Steve Hershfield to pursue their dream of opening a sandwich shop that featured  delicious, plant-based, nutrient-dense, whole food sandwiches on t o a s t.

And what would they call it the shop? “Toast,” of course!

Nina had been baking her nutrient dense bagels and bread out of her home kitchen. Production was limited to 16 loaves of bread or 64 bagels a day. When selling at farmer’s markets, she would always sell out four days of production in just a few hours.

In a follow up meeting with the mentors, Nina said that she found the perfect location for their Toast sandwich shop – a former barber shop in Kittery, Maine that had 400 sq. ft. of space. Rob and Nina embarked on a Kick Starter campaign to raise $17,000 of the $30,000 needed to retrofit the space so that it would be a suitable outlet for Nina’s gluten free sandwiches.

The Kick Starter campaign was successful. Rob and Nina signed a lease, and started the tough job of converting a barber shop to a sandwich shop. Five more mentoring sessions with Peter and Steve followed to deal with other key issues as licensing, accounting, projections, budgeting, use of QuickBooks and other aspects of running a business.

Nina and RobNina with coming soon sign

After seven weeks of hard work, the Toast Sandwich Shop was ready to open the doors for retail sales.

Nina in her finished shop

In a February 2022 mentoring session Nina and Rob said that they had been open the last four Saturdays and Sundays from 7 am to 2 pm and had sold out of sandwiches before 2.

Further it had become apparent that by baking out of her home kitchen, Nina would not be able to meet the demand for her gluten free bread, bagels, and sandwiches. So Nina found a commercial kitchen, approximately one mile from the sandwich shop , where she signed a lease, which will enable her to triple the production of bagels and bread.

Nina is now prepping the menu items to make sandwiches on Friday and selling in the store on Saturday and Sunday. A future dream is to expand into gluten free, gourmet pizzas.

Knowing Nina’s drive and perseverance, mentors Kamford and Hershfield have no doubt she will accomplish this next dream.

The Seacoast SCORE chapter is delighted to have played a key role to help entrepreneurs Nina and Rob create their successful and growing business.

Avocado ToastToast shop street view

Check out their website at www.themainetoast.com. And if you’re in Kittery between 7 am and 2 pm on Saturday or Sunday drop by 7 Shapleigh Road and pick up one or more of their nourishing and delicious sandwiches.

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