One of the great things about this new blog is I get to travel around the state meeting everyday people. For example, I was down in Senoia earlier this month working on a piece about how the town has been transformed into this exciting, unique place due in large part to the film industry. Be sure to check out the piece, which you can read here. Anyway, while I was in the area I stopped one morning for a cup of coffee and new local spot, The Toasty Toad.
While waiting for my coffee I began talking to the owner, Sherri Woods. While chitchatting I found out they got their start in the food service world via the Georgia film industry. They had a New Orleans-style Sno-Ball food truck they parked on production sets to serve those working the shoots. One thing led to another and they've since expanded to a new truck and now a brick and mortar location. Below is a Q&A I did with Woods about her business, how the Georgia film industry has helped it (spoiler alert: a lot), and what the future holds.
1. Walk me through Toasty Toad's Genesis. When did you begin? Why did you begin? What's your background?
We moved to Georgia in 2008 for my husband’s job. He worked in the corporate world for 17+ years. After getting my M.S.B.A. degree, I decided to pursue a career in real estate. When we moved to Georgia in 2008, we decided it was time to start a family, and our daughter was born in December of 2009. In 2011, I decided that our area needed a New Orleans Style Sno-ball experience. We bought a trailer and began serving the public in June of 2011. Our business was definitely a seasonal business at that time. My goal was to make enough money to pay for our family vacations. In 2014, my husband came to work with me and we began to grow even more with our mobile business.
The Toasty Toad, Inc. began as a simple request to transition our New Orleans Style Sno-ball trailer (The Frigid Frog of Georgia, Inc.) into a coffee service by two local productions we were working with in the fall of 2014. We knew that it would take more than transitioning our current sno-ball trailer if we were going to seriously consider a new business venture. After more serious suggestion on the part of a local production, we actively researched mobile vehicles that would accommodate a top-notch coffee shop.
In December 2014, we found an outfitted Sprinter van in Ohio and flew up to look at it and drove it home to Senoia. After replacing most of the equipment, researching techniques, and practicing our skills, we were ready to provide the requested product to the production industry.
2. How did you find a niche within the film industry? How did you cultivate contacts?
In 2013 a crewmember from a local production stopped by The Frigid Frog trailer. He enjoyed his sno-ball so much that he had us come serve onset the next day, and we were on other productions for the next two days. A wise woman told me on set that if I was able to be flexible and served a good product, I would see my business grow. She was right! Flexibility is the key. Having the right attitude and understanding what challenges the film productions face has served us well.
As for cultivating contacts, we simply provide a great service and are easy to work with and are blessed to keep getting on production vendor lists. Productions will come and go but the people that are making the calls for crew treats will remember how we treat them and call when they are working on another production. If it is a positive experience for them, it is likely that they will remember us and give us another opportunity.