The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen named U.S. Small Business Administration San Francisco District 2015 Emerging Business of the Year

Release Date: 
Monday, May 18, 2015
Release Number: 
SFDO 15-05
Marlow Schindler - (415) 744-6771,

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration is honoring the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen as San Francisco’s 2015 Emerging Business of the Year.

Nate Pollak and Heidi Gibson opened the first American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in May of 2010.  They now operate two very successful locations with 30 employees in San Francisco.  Their stores offer made-from-scratch American comfort foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen plans to open its third San Francisco store in 2015, and hopes to grow the concept in the Bay Area and beyond at an approximate rate of one store per year for the next five years.

Nate and Heidi make contributions to the community and community-oriented projects: they hire ARC San Francisco clients (mentally disabled adults), donate dinner to KQED Public Radio fundraising volunteers, donate money and food for fundraisers to support the redevelopment of South Park neighborhood, donate food and catering services to fundraising events for No Kid Hungry, donate to SF AIDS Foundation, and donate time as teachers at Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. They are also about to begin a new partnership with New Door Venture to employ adults with troubled pasts to help them get acclimated back to full-time employment.

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center is a Bay Area non-profit small business organization providing training and support services to help socially and economically diverse women and men start and grow their own thriving businesses.  

Heidi completed Renaissance’s Business Planning Class herself in 2009.  Both Nate and Heidi lost their corporate jobs in 2009 as a result of the Great Recession.  They received SBA services through Renaissance’s San Francisco Women’s Business Center and are now mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and helping other business owners with their own business financials.

“We are happy to take this opportunity to recognize the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen for seeking out good advice, and then following it.  That combined with hard work and a creative vision have helped Nate and Heidi succeed and expand in a challenging restaurant environment,” said Mark Quinn, SBA San Francisco District Office District Director.

“The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is an epitome of an American family-owned local small business—from the tasty artisan food and welcoming atmosphere of the restaurants to engagement in local communities, support for emerging entrepreneurs, working exclusively with local food suppliers, and providing their 30 employees with full health benefits and above average pay – all because of the owners’ commitment to running a successful business that exceeds profitability goals,” according to Sharon Miller of Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen and its owners will be honored at a private event held as part of this week’s San Francisco Small Business Week celebration: