Danny Meyer’s investment group led a $20 million funding round in Goldbelly, an online food retailer selling iconic restaurant dishes from around the country, the companies announced Oct. 9.
Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), launched the $200 million private equity Enlightened Hospitality Investments fund last year to fuel emerging concepts that share USHG’s hospitality focus. The fund has previously invested in Joe Coffee, Salt & Straw and software provider Resy Network.
Goldbelly, founded in 2013 as Goldbely by CEO Joe Ariel, provides an e-commerce platform for restaurant owners to reach a wider audience. It sells dishes from some 350 establishments, including cakes from Milk Bar in New York City, muffulettas from New Orleans’ Central Grocery, Nashville hot chicken from Prince’s Hot Chicken and pastrami sandwiches from Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles. Some items are delivered frozen, others are refrigerated and some, such as the sandwiches, require assembly.
The site will soon begin selling baked goods and other items from Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants, Ariel said.
The company uses proprietary shipping logistics technology to enable restaurant operators to get their products around the country efficiently, as well as providing restaurateurs with help in packaging, food handling, marketing and customer support.
"Most of our partners have never shipped before us," Ariel told Restaurant Business. "We've turned it into a science. We've turned it into a meaningful revenue stream, not just a one-off."
Ariel declined to provide sales figures for Goldbelly or details on how much of a cut restaurants get from each transaction. An operator's sales percentage is decided on a case-by-case basis, he said, depending on the product being shipped.
Goldbelly has evolved from "begging" restaurants to sell through the site to currently only accepting 2% to 3% of the hundreds of applicants who apply to join the online marketplace, he said.
Goldbelly will use the investment to add employees to its technology and operations teams at its new headquarters in New York City. Meyer will join the company’s advisory board.
“Enlightened Hospitality Investments is passionate about finding category disruptors, particularly when their business and culture leverage technology to provide exceptional hospitality,” Meyer said in a statement. “Goldbelly does just that, conveniently fulfilling nostalgic cravings for hometown favorites.”
Goldbelly raised $10 million in funding in March 2017, in a round led by Global Founders Capital and Intel Capital. At that time, the company reported a 200% increase in customers year over year.
In this latest round of funding, existing Goldbelly investors Intel Capital, 500 Startups and 645 Ventures reinvested in the company.