San Francisco's Mission Cheese offering public investment opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A popular San Francisco cheese store is offering people an opportunity to invest in their business.

Amid the $12 cheese plates and the $10 wines, there's something new on the menu at Mission Cheese. "We just put it up a few days ago and to be honest, it's been surprising how few people have mentioned it," Co-founder Oliver Dameron said.

Although they specialize in that familiar fermented delicacy. "Cheese is for breakfast, cheese is for dessert, cheese is for a snack," Sue Lebeck said.

Lebeck bought the one thing on the menu you can't eat - a $1,000 founder's special. "It feels like it sort of fits with the good food movement," she said.

When Sarah Dvorak opened this small shop four years ago, she had no idea how big it would get. "If you come here on a Saturday and you see the line out the door, that makes me feel pretty confident that people are excited about what we do. We've had so many people ask, 'are you going to open a place here? Are you going to go here? Are you ever going to think about opening another place?"' Mission Cheese Manager Eric Miller said.

The answer is yes with a little help. The founder's special isn't a dish, it's an investment opportunity called a direct public offering. "To show that investing in Maker's Common, in our next business, is almost as easy as buying a glass of wine or a beer," Dameron said.

Though putting it on the menu is a little unconventional, having a direct public offering is actually an old concept. In fact, it's been tried before by a couple of guys who know a thing or two about dairy products. "Ben and Jerry's is one of the more famous companies that's done a direct public offering in the past," Dameron said.

Think of it as loaning Mission Cheese $1,000 and it will earn four percent interest for seven years. They will use the money to build Maker's Common -- a market and restaurant where they'll do their own pickling, cure their own meats and serve a lot more of that delicious cheese. "It actually provides a reasonable risk on a respectable return," Lebeck said.

And Valencia Street is much closer than Wall Street. "So you actually feel like you're investing in your community," Dvorak said.

Click here for more information on how to invest in Maker's Common.
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