Small Business Story: The Linden Store Flourishes in Small Restaurant Market

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Nathan Chiu, University of Pennsylvania

Small Business: Linden Store 

The scent of cured meat greets me as I open the deli door. Already, a line has formed, winding its way around the store. I don’t mind waiting. The premium sandwiches make the trip worth it and at least there’s air conditioning and shelter from the sweltering heat outside. Looking around, I see some familiar faces. Turns out they’re my high school classmates. I give a friendly wave and say hi. At last it’s my turn to order at the counter. I order my usual “Isabella” sandwich, a sumptuous sandwich containing prosciutto, thick slabs of cheese, and tomato. I pay at the register, step out of the store, and drive home.

The family-run Linden Store has remained a favorite of mine because of its engagement with the community, consistent service, and their delicious sandwiches. A Wellesley mainstay, locals flock to the store at lunch, creating lines that often go out of the door. Even with competitors sprouting around it, the Linden Store continues to grow in popularity because town residents love it so much and spread the word to all their friends. The Linden Store is an avid supporter of local schools and often cater town events and fundraisers. The Linden Store also provides a steady stream of income for high school students interested in making a little extra cash during the summer. For this engagement with the community, the Linden Store has earned the respect and love of Wellesley residents.

The food and beverage industry involves several concerns that are relevant to the Linden Store, namely ingredients. Consumers yearn for high quality, organic foods, especially millennials, 45% of whom want organic ingredients according to a Gallup survey. This poses a risk for the Linden Store because not all of their ingredients meet this organic standard. At the same time, the Linden Store doesn’t want to betray its loyal customers, who grew up eating its classic sandwiches. Substituting some ingredients for organic ones may compromise the taste. To address the new generation of customers and avoid alienating loyal customers, the Linden Store can source from local farms and test to make sure the sandwiches taste and appear the same. After finding a good source, they should display certifications such as USDA as well as a list of farms they partner with to reassure health-conscious customers and to provide greater transparency.

In terms of operations, unmet demand offers another major concern for the Linden Store. Droves of hungry customers come to the Linden Store. However, the store is sometimes slow in taking all the orders, especially at peak hours. To improve its operations, the Linden store can open multiple counters. Having multiple queues drastically speeds up processes as I’ve learned in my operations class at Penn. Right now, the Linden Store only has one line, which creates a bottleneck. The kitchen has enough capacity to address incoming orders so increasing the number of lines would make sure customers receive their food in a timely manner. Moreover, the Linden Store can consider adopting a more modern point of sales (POS) system. They currently use an old-fashioned cash register, which creates another bottleneck for customers eager to eat their delicious sandwich. Installing another cash register would drastically improve flow rate and boost customer satisfaction.

The Linden Store only has one store and lack the resources that larger competitors have, but there are ways to mitigate these risks. Through addressing these risks, the Linden Store can continue flourishing.