Dig Inn, one of the original members of QSR’s 40/40 List of startup fast casuals, has secured $15 million in funding from Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospital Investments equity fund. The group was part of a $20 million total funding round for 24-unit Dig Inn.
Founder Adam Eskin said the investment would help the brand expand its Northeast footprint, including in New York, Boston, and a market entry into Philadelphia. It will also aid Dig Inn’s expansion of its delivery service, Room Service. Eskin said it would first serve downtown New York City, then all of Manhattan.
Additionally, the company plans to hire 300 additional employees, “many of which have never stepped foot in a restaurant kitchen,” Eskin wrote in a Medium article. They’ll “teach them that knife skills are life skills, and how learning how to cook can change everything.”
Named No. 4 on data firm Fishbowl’s recent report on the country’s top emerging chains, Dig Inn preaches a “farm-to-counter” model that involves working with farmers to plan what it will harvest and cook, and crops that are set in conjunction with menu ideation. Dig Inn even has its own farm in the Upstate New York. The chain keeps prices reasonable with cooking techniques that minimize waste, like approaching vegetables stem to leaf.
Eskin said the investment will help it supply restaurants with more than 8 million pounds of vegetables from the 80-plus farmers that make up its community, including 100,000 pounds from its own farmer, Larry Tse, his team, and Tse’s newly launched “Young Farmer Incubator Program.”
“Dig Inn is working to bring unprecedented and lasting change to our food system, and we’re proud to partner with them on their journey,” Meyer said in a statement,
This isn’t the first time Dig Inn has received funding to expand. It previously picked up $30 million in a Series D funding round led by AVALT, with Monogram Capital Partners and Bill Allen, the former CEO of OSI Restaurant Partners. It said then that it plans to open as many as 15 additional units by the end of 2019.
Eskin said the partnership with Meyer’s team began with a visit to the Dig Inn Farm from Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern.
“Before long some of our farm’s vegetables — eggplants, fresno chiles, bumblebee tomatoes, and leeks — made their way into Gramercy’s kitchen, and from there our partnership grew to where we are today,” Eskin wrote.
The group’s past investments include Goldbelly, Resy, and Salt & Straw. Meyer launched the $200 million private-equity arm in 2017.