Dig Inn's founder and CEO is betting that well-prepared vegetables work just as well in a sit-down environment as they do for the office lunch crowds.
— Erika Adams
Flush with a $20 million investment led by Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), vegetable-forward fast casual chain Dig Inn is ready to hit the ground running on a slew of expansion plans.
In a post on Medium announcing the new investment, which includes $15 million from EHI, Dig Inn founder and CEO Adam Eskin outlined the company’s immediate strategic plans for the rest of the year. The 26-unit chain will be opening up around 10 more locations across both existing markets, New York City and Boston, as well as a new market launch in Philadelphia. Eskin plans to add 300 new employees to Dig Inn’s payroll over the course of the year.
Moving Into Full Service
Aside from growing Dig Inn’s existing fast casual business, the company announced that it will also be moving into the full service category. The chain plans to open up a sit-down restaurant later this year in New York City’s West Village neighborhood.
It’s a surprising move in an environment where full service restaurant chains are more likely to launch fast casual concepts — not the other way around. Typically, a fast casual setup is attractive for operators hoping to reap the benefits of lower operational costs and higher profit margins on orders.
However, Eskin isn’t deterred by the challenge. Dig Inn already takes a time-intensive, chef-centered approach to menu construction, and the company runs its own farm in upstate New York. Expanding into full-service will allow Eskin to offer Dig Inn’s staff a wider variety of job opportunities, and he sees potential in being able to speak to a consumer separate from the lunch crowds, where Dig Inn takes in the majority of its business.
“We have a particular point of view: casual and approachable,” Eskin said. “[The full service concept] is just another way to deliver our perspective on food to more and more people.”
Room Service, Dig Inn’s proprietary delivery system that launched earlier this year in one test location, is also set for expansion. More restaurant locations in lower Manhattan will start to offer the service in the coming weeks, followed by all New York City locations.
The new round of funding from EHI brings Dig Inn’s total capital raised to $71.5 million. EHI’s other investments include stakes in online food marketplace Goldbelly, ice cream shop Salt & Straw, and restaurant reservations platform Resy. Meyer has previously invested in Sweetgreen and Tender Greens, both similar fast-growing restaurant chains in the industry.