"We look for an idea we wish we’d thought of ourselves," says Meyer.
On Tuesday, the online food marketplace Goldbelly announced that it has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Enlightened Hospitality Investments, the fund formed by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Meyer will be joining the company's advisory board.
"As much as food lovers are excited to discover what’s new, we yearn to rediscover foods that reconnect us with our past," Meyer tells mkgallery. "Goldbelly curates those foods and makes finding them—and having them on shipped to your doorstep—an eminently convenient process."
Goldbelly, which changed its name from "Goldbely" this month, ships cult-favorite regional food items around the country, making a Philadelphia cheesesteak (from the great Tony Luke's, no less) accessible to a displaced Philadelphian in, say, Florida. Goldbelly selections include some of the country's most iconic foods, including items from Milk Bar, Russ & Daughters, Chicago's Gino's East and Lou Malnati's Pizza, Pittsburgh's Primanti Brothers, and Nashville's Prince's Hot Chicken. Founder and CEO Joe Ariel oversees the company, which manages e-commerce operations and logistics for 350 U.S. food makers.
"Goldbelly represents the best of that ideal as they meet demand driven by the emotional connection and nostalgia that consumers feel for their hometown favorites through a convenient online delivery marketplace," Meyer said in a statement announcing the funding. "The culture that the team at Goldbelly has built around caring for their employees, customers and stakeholders mirrors the values we hold most important at Union Square Hospitality Group.”
The restaurant mogul has kept busy this year, opening one of New York's hottest new restaurants, Manhatta, in July. When considering investments, he tells mkgallery that he looks for projects that he wishes his team had come up for.
"We look for an idea we wish we’d thought of ourselves. We look for an engaged employee-first culture," he says. "And we look for passionate and effective leaders who know how to scale their groundbreaking idea so that even more people can enjoy it."