Thumb Bread® was created by three sisters, Fusun, Gonca, and Arzu Esendemir, who came from humble beginnings. The sisters created Thumb Bread® in 2007 to serve in their fast casual Mediterranean restaurant. The sisters started the restaurant concept as a means to afford health insurance for their father. The bread was a defining part of the sisters' unique menu offerings.
Who Are The Esendemir Sisters?
We're the Esendemir sisters: Fusun, Gonca, and Arzu. We're a trio of dedicated entrepreneurial restauranteurs with a passion for great food. Growing up in poverty and being raised by immigrant parents taught us hard work and dedication. We came to own a business together when our father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Fusun, our big sister, was laid off from her corporate job and wanted to pursue a path that involved her love of food.
She asked Arzu, our little sister, to help start up a restaurant concept. Arzu, who had just graduated at the top of her college class, jumped in and created the restaurant brand. Fusun and Arzu then asked Gonca, the middle sister who was still in college, to join their venture.
The three of us combined our talents and passions to build a successful restaurant concept over the course of thirteen years. Together, the three of us overcame significant challenges to survive and thrive in one of the toughest industries in the world.
It's been an incredible 16-year-journey of passion, persistence, and dedication. We've baked millions of bread by hand day in and day out, from scratch while serving millions of customers delicious food.
Together, as a minority owned family business led by women, we have achieved the impossible. Bringing our unique bread to the masses and sharing our story with the world has been an incredible journey.
Here is a snapshot of how we got here.
2006: Three Sisters. One Goal.
We needed a way to pay for our father's open heart surgery when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Fusun was laid off from her corporate job while she was helping cover our father's medical bills. She teamed up with Arzu to start a restaurant. Gonca joined in to help with the marketing.
2007: A Special Kind Of Bread
Arzu had a vision for a specific type of bread she wanted. It had to be small, round, puffy, and work for not only for making sandwiches, but be tasty enough to serve with the menu's soups and salads. It was going to BREAD FOR EVERYTHING!
When no baker was able to bring her vision to life, Arzu tested and eventually created a proprietary bread recipe. She called it 'Thumb Bread'.
Over the next decade and a half, she would consistently tweak and perfect the recipe, hand-forming and baking MILLIONS of pieces.
2008: The New York Times
An editor from one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world, The New York Times, ate a sandwich on Thumb Bread®. The newspaper gave our breads an outstanding review within two weeks of our very first restaurant being open. We showed up one day and had a line down the block of customers wanting to try our special breads.
Commitment To Quality
We dedicated ourselves to baking from scratch, every single day. Baking bread from scratch by hand was an all consuming process. We started from the early morning hours until closing. We focused, worked hard, and took no days off to meet the growing demand our bread was generating.
The popularity of our special bread increased day by day. Customers told their friends, parents, teachers, and coworkers about it. People began to travel all across the states to visit our restaurant just to try this special bread.
2009: The Recession
With the economy recovering from a recession and restaurants closing, things looked bleak. But we kept on baking and we kept on working hard.
2010 - 2012: The Recovery
Our focus, determination, and persistence to making delicious food and baking fresh bread daily for our loyal customers and saving our father's life helped us get through some tough times.
2013: Inc. Magazine Inc.
Inc. Magazine brought our story to a worldwide audience. They profiled us and our journey in a web series about entrepreneurs.
2015: More Restaurants
We overcame battles and obstacles to open more restaurant locations, which meant making even more bread by hand. We started to seriously consider making our bread accessible to everyone even if they couldn't visit one of our stores.
2017: First Food Show
We were invited to showcase Thumb Bread® at our first food show. It was a hit!
2018: Getting Ready
We were given the opportunity to sell Thumb Bread® locally. Arzu designed a special burlap bag that invoked warmth and comfort and we got to work building display racks to merchandise our bread. We then prepared to launch in retail stores throughout New Jersey.
2019: Lots Of Bread
Thumb Bread® sold out almost immediately. Some stores sold out the same day it was delivered. We searched for a bigger bakery to make the bread because our restaurant space was not big enough to meet the demand.
2019: So Much BREAD!
We maxed out making THOUSANDS of pieces of bread by hand every single day for retail stores and our restaurant locations. We couldn't keep up!
Today: Bread For Everyone
We finally have a bigger bakery with the capacity to make lots and lot of bread, so now everyone everywhere can enjoy Thumb Bread®! All three of us are still very much involved with all aspects of the business, including taste testing new flavors to launch. We are truly grateful to the wonderful customers who supported our bread making adventures and we're even more excited to meet all the new customers out there who can now enjoy Thumb Bread®.
You can follow us on social media to stay up to date with our journey as we continue to grow and share our passion for family and food with the world.