“The most amazing part of the sandwich is the bread,” Nutting said. “It’s baked fresh and topped with hearty pesto. Everybody loves pesto. You can smell it when you walk into the building.”
That building, in fact, has given them a prime location to practice the skills they learned in their business classes. Nutting estimated that 60 percent of their business comes from within the Vancouver Center. However, it is the customer who travels from further away that is helping them grow.
“By spreading the word to other offices downtown, we saw an increase in foot traffic from other buildings,” Nehm explained. “That’s been increasing over the past four years.”
What exactly is drawing in the crowds? Besides the hand-crafted food, Nehm and Nutting believe their backgrounds in customer service have served them well.
“People will come in right at closing and ask, ‘What is the easiest thing for you to make?’” Nutting said. “My response is that it’s not about what’s easiest. I’m not going to cut the experience for you just because it’s closing time.”
The partners, who are also the only two employees, don’t just make and sell the food. They take care of every part of the business, from marketing to bookkeeping.
“It’s been beneficial for us to both be in business-focused degrees to learn the ins and outs of running a business and doing it ourselves,” Nehm said.
With Nutting’s recent graduation and Nehm’s upcoming graduation in May, the two are hoping to make some major expansions. They hope to hire more employees before the end of the year, and move into a bigger space soon.
“The challenge will be to replicate the experience people have at our smaller location,” Nutting said. “The product is great and I think there is a huge demand for it.”
This expansion doesn’t mean leaving their college town, however. Nutting said he believes Vancouver’s interconnectedness made it the perfect place to launch a business, and its growth will give Cream and Sugar an advantage.
“For so long, Vancouver has relied on Portland for the amenities and culture,” he said. “That’s changing. I think ushering in that change is important. We’re at the perfect point to make sure we’re agile enough to change with it. We see that as our opportunity for even greater success.”