The investment duo backing the Miami Dolphins, David Chang’s restaurant group and such consumer brands as Equinox and SoulCycle have put an undisclosed amount of growth capital behind &pizza, the fast-casual brand said today.
The funds will be used to fuel &pizza openings in Miami, Boston and New York City, the 23-unit operation revealed.
The deal also gives the investors, Stephen Ross and Matthew Higgins, each a spot on &pizza’s board. Chain co-founder Michael Lastoria remains CEO and creative director.
The investment was made through Ross and Higgins’ RSE Ventures, a venture-capital firm that specializes in the sports, media, technology and entertainment industries. In late 2016, RSE made a “significant” though little-noticed investment in Chang’s New York City-based Momofuku, a group of Asian restaurants that range from the Fuku chicken-sandwich concept to the high-end Ssam Bar.
Ross is the principal owner of the Miami Dolphins football team and a major player in the East Coast real estate scene through his ownership of Related Cos. Ross and Related also have an equity stake in Danny Meyer's multi-concept group, Union Square Hospitality Group.
Higgins is the vice chairman of the Dolphins. With his guidance, RSE has also invested in the new sport of drone racing.
“It’s our aim at RSE to arm innovative and socially conscious brands with the tools they need to command their categories,” Higgins said in a statement. “Michael Lastoria has already upended the fast-casual food space by fostering an enviable and authentic company culture through his financial commitment to &pizza’s most valuable asset—its employees.
“We look forward to supporting Lastoria as he brings &pizza’s inclusive message, smart business and superior product to new markets.”