Operations

Former RBI exec named CEO of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop

Jeff Galletly, who was previously VP with Tim Hortons USA, takes on the rapidly growing digital brand as it wraps a fundraising round with "Shark Tank"-affiliated investors and prepares to go public in Canada..
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop is primarily in the New York area, but has units in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Canada. | Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop.

The automated concept Brooklyn Dumpling Shop has a new CEO and new investors looking for growth.

Jeff Galletly on Wednesday was unveiled as the new CEO for the New York-based concept, known for its all-digital ordering model that allows guests a nearly-human-free experience.

Galletly comes from Restaurant Brands International, where he was most recently vice president and general manager of Tim Hortons USA, following various executive roles in operations and marketing intelligence for Burger King North America and for both brands in Asia. He was also previously an investor with private-equity firm Wingate Partners and VMG Partners.

He actually started with Brooklyn Dumpling Shop in February, but said he wanted to spend some time with the brand and its franchisees before publicly taking the helm from founder Stratis Morfogen, who remains an advisor and investor. Morfogen created Brooklyn Dumpling Shop as a spinoff of his two-unit full-service concept Brooklyn Chop House Steakhouse, which is known for its creative dumplings.

In a statement, Morfogen said, “We’re thrilled to hand the keys of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop to such a proven industry force. Jeff’s extensive leadership with legacy brands will drive our company into our new era and beyond.”

Founded in 2020, the now 11-unit Brooklyn Dumpling Shop also recently closed on a series A funding round backed by Kevin O’Leary of O’Leary Ventures—known as a regular on the entrepreneur pitch show “Shark Tank.”

Watch O’Leary taste the brand’s dumplings here, and be sure to turn up the volume.

The amount of the fundraise was not disclosed. But investors also include Matt Higgins, CEO of RSE Ventures, which has invested in restaurant companies that include &pizza, Momofuku and Bluestone Lane Coffee Shops & Cafes—though Galletly noted that the investment in Brooklyn Dumpling Shop comes from Higgins personally, not RSE.

Galletly also comes in as the brand makes a big move into Canada.

This summer, a reverse takeover, or RTO, is planned in Canada that will take the company public there. It’s something like a special purpose acquisition company, Galletly said, and the plan is to grow the brand across North America.

Already, more than 200 units are in development, he said, including a 100-unit master franchise deal in Canada signed last year with Sitewise Solutions Inc., which opened the first unit in Calgary. A franchisee in Vancouver has signed an eight-unit deal there.

As a concept, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop is unique in part because it is almost fully automated on the consumer-facing side of operations, offering a menu of dumplings and bowls designed primarily for to-go dining.

“It’s a fun brand, a cool brand, in a growing category,” said Galletly. “We want to be a tech-forward digital brand with a frictionless tech stack.”

In January, the company brought in a new point-of-sale system, which will allow for the launch of a new mobile app in the next few weeks.

And the brand is evolving to put more emphasis on human hospitality, with a brand ambassador helping guests navigate the kiosks and food-locker pickup system in restaurants. It was initially designed to be a 24/7 operation, but now operating hours are lunch through late night, and units will include more seating for on-site dining, he said.

These are not typical Asian dumplings.

The menu, for example, includes options like dumplings filled with pastrami; mac and cheese; Korean barbecue; or Apple Pie Dumplings. There are also some non-dumpling offerings, including protein bowls, Korean noodles and waffle fries, for example. The average check is roughly around $20.

The formats can be as small as 200-square-feet in a food hall to up to 1,800-square feet, though Galletly said the sweet spot is between 800  to 1,000 square feet.

He hopes to grow Brooklyn Dumpling Shop outside North America soon.

“We’re talking to potential franchise partners in other parts of the world,” he said. “It’s about getting out there to raise brand awareness. We have a great brand, and we need to let people know about it.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to clarify Jeff Galletly's role with Tim Hortons.

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