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San Francisco District Office Success Stories

San Francisco District Office Success Stories


The San Francisco District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration selected The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen as San Francisco’s 2015 Emerging Business of the Year.

Both Nate and Heidi lost their corporate jobs in 2009 as a result of the Great Recession.  Heidi completed Renaissance’s Business Planning Class in 2009.  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.

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. 

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 Ventures to employ adults with troubled pasts to help them get acclimated back to full-time employment.