Forget lookalikes: when you want a Tony Luke’s Philly cheesesteak in California, only the original will do. Authenticity matters when it comes to local and regional food specialties.
Goldbelly, an online food marketplace that ships foods from some of the country’s most iconic regional restaurants, has announced a $20 million series B round of funding led by Danny Meyer’s one-year-old Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI). The cash is earmarked to help grow the business and expand the GoldBelly tech and operations teams.
The company was featured earlier this year as one of Skift Table’s top restaurant startups to watch.
“We believe that the country’s greatest foods are made by passionate regional food makers and artisans,” said Goldbelly CEO Joe Ariel. “We’ve created a platform to empower these iconic local brands to connect with food lovers across the country, and look forward to enabling more people to enjoy these magical food experiences around the country.”
Goldbelly works with 350 restaurants in nearly every state, managing e-commerce and logistics. It helps them package and ship food, like Philadelphia cheesesteaks, Chicago deep-dish pizza, Austin barbecue, and plenty more, so it safely reaches its destination.
Of course, Meyer applies the kind of hospitality ideas we’ve come to expect from him to this investment. “I’ve often thought that planning a trip is almost as much fun as actually taking it. What if you could extend the pleasure of the trip afterward and revisit some of the memories of the trip? You don’t have to have visited one of the cities whose products Goldbelly sells to love it, but if you went to school there or took a business trip there and discovered a local flavor and then you can actually reconnect with that emotional feeling and have it on your doorstep the next day, that’s an amazing thing,” he said.
EHI “is passionate about finding category disruptors, particularly when their business and culture leverage technology to provide exceptional hospitality,” he said. It has backed companies from the tech-forward Resy to the beloved brick-and-mortar ice cream purveyor Salt & Straw.
The company’s mix of tech and restaurant investments isn’t strictly prescribed, and Meyer said EHI won’t limit its investments to companies that touch the hospitality industry. “The mix we have is just how it’s ended up so far. We never set out saying we’re going to have 50 percent of our investments here and 50 percent of our investments there,” he said.
“We’re looking for ideas we wish we had come up with ourselves and leaders who we would have loved to have hired ourselves. And then we just hope to be able to apply some of what we learned to help them scale those businesses.”
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