Baking & Snack - November 2020 - 32

MAIN STREET GOURMET

" We would find a distributor in an area - Detroit,
Pittsburgh, anywhere nearby - and hire salespeople,
give them a good commission, and we grew that muffin
business, " Mr. Nelson explained.
In 1996, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Marks saw a new opportunity emerge, a need that wasn't being met yet. As more
and more foodservice chains were consolidating, they
needed to differentiate their bakery items to stand out
and stay competitive. After working with one customer
to create a signature product, Main Street realized this
service could become a lucrative business.
" We did something pretty clever with that product,
and we realized we're pretty good at this, " Mr. Nelson explained. " So the vision was to become a custom bakery
manufacturer. "
Main Street Muffins would transition into Main Street
Gourmet and focus on developing custom products for
national chain restaurants and in-store bakeries. The
company changed its entire business infrastructure to
become more responsive to customer needs. That transition took 10 to 15 years, but now Main Street Gourmet
is well-equipped to nimbly develop distinctive products
that solve its customers' problems.

A streamlined customization process
As a custom bakery, Main Street Gourmet does not attempt to predict market trends, but rather, Main Street
Gourmet's goal is to listen to what its customers need.
By not expending energy chasing market trends, Main
Street Gourmet can focus on solving challenges.
" Our customers know their customers better than we do,
With so many different ingredients at the ready, manual scaling into batches
has made the most sense for Main Street Gourmet.

CHARACTER IN A CRISIS
Crisis and hard times really bring
out a person's, and a company's,
character. When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
came to Ohio, Harvey Nelson,
co-founder and chief executive
officer of Akron-based Main Street
Gourmet, said Shore Capital
Partners really showed their
colors.
" We've done this enough to
know how people are when things
get bad, and during COVID, these
guys stepped up way beyond
what you would expect from
private equity, " he said. " They are
32 Baking & Snack November 2020 / www.bakingbusiness.com

people-oriented, which I like. "
Shore Capital recapitalized Main
Street Gourmet in September
2019, and when the pandemic
began, the Chicago-based
investment firm set up a fund to
assist employees across all of
its businesses and empowered
Main Street Gourmet to set up its
own internal fund as well. These
funds enabled the bakery to grant
money to employees who needed
assistance making ends meet.
On the business side, Main
Street Gourmet's customers
are split almost evenly between

restaurants and in-store bakeries.
While the in-store bakery business
held up, Mr. Nelson said the
foodservice business took a dive
early in the pandemic. Today, the
business is back up to 85% or 90%
of pre-COVID levels.
" We're very creative, and our
adaptability helped a lot, " he said.
With assistance from Ohio's
unemployment program, Main
Street Gourmet also kept many
people employed part-time. Today,
the bakery has been able to bring
nearly all of its employees back to
work full time.


http://www.bakingbusiness.com

Baking & Snack - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack - November 2020

Baking & Snack - November 2020 - 1
Baking & Snack - November 2020 - 1
Baking & Snack - November 2020 - 2
Baking & Snack - November 2020 - 3
Baking & Snack - November 2020 - 4
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