Qu, a cloud-based POS system for limited-service restaurants, has landed an investment from Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), the fund run by Union Square Hospitality Group founder and Chairman Danny Meyer.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It’s the 22nd investment for EHI, which focuses on restaurants and restaurant tech suppliers.
Qu offers what it calls a “unified commerce platform” that is designed to streamline restaurants’ tech infrastructure, which tends to be a patchwork of apps built atop older POS systems. It captures and relays every order from any channel, from the moment the order is placed until it is served to the guest. It also centralizes menu management, allowing operators to make menu and pricing changes across multiple locations and ordering platforms at once.
The company checked a lot of boxes for EHI, which looks for technology that it believes can enhance hospitality in restaurants rather than take it away.
“What we love about Qu is that it basically centralizes both on-premise and off-premise ordering channels into one platform,” Meyer said in an interview. “We believe [operators] will have the opportunity to spend much more of their time with their staff members and their guests and a lot less time trying to rationalize, say, a pricing change.”
Qu is focused solely on quick-service and fast-casual chains with 25 or more locations, a market that today is dominated by legacy POS providers. But, Meyer said, “none of them provides the opportunity to have a unified commerce platform.”
He noted that Qu’s menu management tool is especially valuable as operators focus more on pricing.
“We believe that Qu has as good of a chance as any company in this environment, with this solution, to really be a big player,” he said.
Bethesda, Md.-based Qu was founded in 2014 as a more traditional POS provider. But as the number of ways to order from restaurants exploded to include mobile, web, third-party delivery apps and more, it saw an opportunity to simplify what had become a complex web of technology. Qu can ingest orders from any channel and funnel them directly into the POS, giving operators a single “point of truth” for their data.
“With us, you get a clean slate,” CEO Amir Hudda said in an interview.
Buying Qu’s POS is a prerequisite for using the rest of the platform. But restaurants can connect tech from outside providers if they want to; Qu integrates with about 90 other suppliers. It can also run on most hardware and integrate with most payment processors. Restaurants pay Qu a flat monthly fee that varies from brand to brand depending on the products they buy and their unit count.
Qu has enjoyed strong demand as restaurants look to modernize their tech stacks for the omnichannel era. This year alone, more than a dozen brands have signed up for Qu. Its total store count is up 150% year over year, while annualized run rate has increased 125%. Customers include Church’s Chicken, Blaze Pizza and Taco John’s.
Hudda said that Qu has plenty of capital from existing investors to keep growing. In EHI, it saw a partner that could lend wisdom as well as money. Meyer is an industry legend, having founded Shake Shack and a number of well-regarded one-offs under Union Square Hospitality Group. It doesn’t hurt that an investment from EHI is widely viewed as a stamp of approval.
“We decided that they would be the right kind of partner for us because they bring that expertise that’s very unique,” Hudda said.
Meyer said EHI strives to be a “constructive problem solver” for the companies it invests in, leaning on its years of experience as a guide. “If we can ever help someone benefit by making new mistakes as opposed to the ones we’ve already made, that’s a good thing,” he said.
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