With a novel idea and a lot of elbow grease, a pair of East Village engineers opened a thriving restaurant.
Giving Cheesy Goodness
What is S'MAC?
S’MAC, short for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese, is a category-defining restaurant founded upon the idea of elevating macaroni & cheese from a perennial side dish to the status of a meal in and of itself.
S’MAC opened its doors in June 2006 in the East Village neighborhood of New York City and features a menu based solely around variations of traditional macaroni & cheese and to our knowledge was the first such restaurant and an inspiration for all the other mac & cheese eateries now opening around the country. On opening day, the long lines and media frenzy quickly proved that even though the predictions about the relevance of this concept were correct, the entire process at S’MAC would have to be redesigned because the existing kitchen, equipment and preparation techniques were labor and time intensive and not conducive to servicing the high volumes being seen.
The 3-4 years after opening were used as an incubation period for this concept, where a unique process was developed and deployed for delivering baked-to-order and individually customizable mac & cheese dishes in a fast-casual setting. The process was designed to maintain high food quality and baked to order dishes using freshly prepared ingredients yet staying at an affordable price point.
TARGET: To expand S’MAC from the existing 1 unit to 10 units and to refine the operating model so that it can subsequently be rolled out nationwide, incorporating its core purpose and its core values.
STATUS: Currently there is one S’MAC location extant averaging $22,000 per week in sales with dine-in and take-out alone (no deliveries). On average, each staff member has been employed at S’MAC for 6+ years. There is a loyal customer base with over 13,000 followers on Facebook and over 8,000 people on the mailing list. S’MAC ships food nationwide and after 11 years still gets requests almost daily to open a location in various cities in the US and throughout the world.
PLAN: We are looking to open 10 new locations over the next 2-3 years and will also use this time to:
- Develop operating manuals and implement training systems, for both hard and soft skills.
- Build programs to give back to communities S’MAC will open in (over and above food & monetary donations).
- Build a corporate operations and finance team that will help take S’MAC to the next level.
- Raise funds for a larger deployment throughout the US & Canada starting in 2021.
FINANCIAL: This phase in the growth of S’MAC will require $6 million which will enable us to open 10 additional restaurants, one year of corporate salaries and to retire some current debt. People with operational expertise, and financial expertise, in multi-unit restaurants will need to be hired to help grow S’MAC successfully.
Convertible Promissory Notes
Note converts to Common Stock when the company raises $1,000,000 in a qualified equity financing.
Maturity Date: June 1, 2021
$3,000,000 Valuation Cap
25% Discount Rate
5% Annual Interest Rate
Maximum ($107,000) in convertible notes
Minimum ($10,000) in convertible notes
If you invest in S'MAC you will receive a $100 S'MAC gift card to our location.
For details on the bonus, please see the Offering Summary below.
We believe Mac & Cheese will become a dining category, like Burgers & Pizza, with S'MAC being the beginning of this category
The story of S’MAC begins in 2005 when we were still living in Manchester, NH and working in our respective careers as engineers. We were in love with New York City and would travel regularly and frequently – sometimes making the five-hour drive just for a day trip - and talking about moving there “one day”. Finally, on a drive back to Manchester after one such visit (Memorial Day weekend 2005 to be exact) and inspired by the energy of the city, we decided to take the plunge and move to New York. Over the next few weeks we sold practically everything we owned, quit our engineering jobs and re-located to a sublet in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan on July 31st. It was intimidating yet thrilling! We had enough money to pay the bills for a few months and we decided that we would use those available months to find work that we actually love and not jump at the first opportunity that offered a stable salary.
When we weren’t spending time on the job hunt we were out exploring the city, and a major attraction of NYC is the plethora of amazing restaurants to eat at. Especially intriguing were the niche restaurants that served just one item and did it well. One such place was the Peanut Butter Company in the Village – a restaurant that dedicated its whole menu to different variations of PB&J sandwiches.
While eating lunch there one day, Sarita felt that in this city of niche eateries surely there must be a mac & cheese eatery somewhere and decided that was where we would eat our next meal. We searched but couldn’t find one anywhere in the city nor could we find any mention online of such a place existing anywhere else.
In 2005, it seemed like mac & cheese was a popular menu item on many restaurant menus where it would be one item among the many other things offered on their menu. We also read a lot of chatter about mac & cheese on foodie boards such as Chowhound with people trading favorite recipes or tips on where to find the best mac & cheese. To our knowledge, however, there was no restaurant that specialized in just mac & cheese, and we found this fascinating.
We have always known of niche restaurants focusing on a single menu item in this country – things such as burgers, pizza, tacos, etc. Yet one of the most quintessential of all American foods, macaroni & cheese, seemed to have never been represented by its own eatery.
Once we conceived of the idea of a restaurant dedicated to mac & cheese we couldn’t let it go. Neither of us had any prior experience of being in the food business, and opening a restaurant had never even registered in our minds as a possible future career. However, this idea was so compelling that we felt we had to either do something about it or spend the rest of our lives wondering ‘what if’, and so we started taking the first tentative steps to explore what it would take to open a restaurant in this city.
9 months after that lunch date at the Peanut Butter Company, S’MAC opened its doors and it has been an incredible ride ever since.
Core Purpose & Values
S'MAC has now been operating for over 11 years, serving delicious and innovative mac & cheese dishes but with a greater sense of purpose behind them. In 2017, the owners of S’MAC and its entire staff came together to articulate what the foundation of the company truly is. This is what was established:
Core Purpose of S’MAC
- To Give Goodness
Core Values of S’MAC
- Put people first always
- “For everyone”: welcoming and accessible to everyone (including all income levels, people with dietary restrictions, etc.)
- To operate with honesty, integrity and openness
Long-Term Goal of S’MAC
- Become the company most known for providing training, opportunities and tools for personal and professional growth of its employees.
- We will create an environment that provides resources that employees need in order to learn how to set and achieve life goals. Working at S’MAC will mean that they are learning life skills, not just job skills.
Our Mac & Cheese
Scratch Cooking in Small Batches
At S'MAC, we are adamant about serving real food at all times. That means nothing is processed and nothing is pre-cooked. All ingredients that go into our mac & cheeses are delivered to the store and are chopped, shredded, and cooked by our staff. This includes cheeses, pasta, meats, vegetables, etc. In addition we cook in small batches all day and do not cook anything days in advance. It is our commitment that everything at S'MAC will always be cooked from scratch at each store.
12 Years and Going Strong
The doors to S'MAC opened on June 24, 2006, and we are currently in our 12th year of operation. Being a small family-owned business has been an experience filled with ups and downs. During these 12 years, we have had two of our own children (now an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old).
- Pioneers in Mac & Cheese: To the best of our knowledge, we were the first-ever restaurant that dedicated its menu entirely to mac & cheese. Since then, we have created a successful mac & cheese restaurant model that has been copied by others and has helped create this restaurant category.
- Menu Innovation: We have constantly pushed the boundaries of who can eat mac & cheese. In 2008 we were able to offer every single mac & cheese on the menu gluten-free. By 2010, we had a Vegan offering and also were able to offer any mac & cheese with a reduced-lactose option. A goal of ours is to offer an organic menu along with freshly-made house pasta.
- Restaurant Innovation: Lacking any pre-existing mac & cheese restaurants to model ours after, we opened with a traditional kitchen setup which proved not conducive to the high volume of traffic we started seeing. We spent the next four years doing research on equipment, take-out packaging and implementing changes. Now, almost every mac & cheese place that has opened uses exactly what we designed. The model is working.
- It's Not All Fun & Games: We have lived through 12 years of business and have been through ups and downs. We know what it takes to sustain a business.
- Passion: As the founders of this concept, we still have the passion and excitement in our brand and believe that it will be a worldwide presence in the years to come.
- Loyalty: We have a large and loyal customer base who return regularly to the restaurant and are emotionally tied to S'MAC. We see new faces along with longtime ones who have been coming to us since we first opened!
- Expertise: We have participated as mentors for entrepreneurial panels, business coach competition judges, and as members of restaurant round tables. The video shown here (above and on the right, or below on mobile devices) is a detailed interview with Sarita regarding women-owned businesses that include tips for other aspiring female entrepreneurs.