Australian lifestyle and hospitality brand Bluestone Lane announced that it has closed a round of strategic funding to fuel its global expansion, as the company plans to double its unit count over the next two years across 10 cities. The growth investment comes from RSE Ventures, a private investment firm founded by Stephen M. Ross and Matt Higgins, which specializes in incubating, operating and growing consumer brands, with a focus on food, technology, sports and media.
Nicholas Stone, Bluestone Lane's founder and CEO, launched the New York City-headquartered company in late 2013 to bring Australian coffee culture and a tailored customer experience to the U.S. The funding and partnership with RSE will help accelerate Bluestone Lane's global retail café expansion, from 30 units in six cities to 60 units across 10 cities, while continuing to develop its consumer packaged goods ("CPG") and lifestyle media business.
"This is a transformative investment for Bluestone Lane, which started from modest beginnings in midtown Manhattan, and the consummation of this partnership provides an incredible opportunity to build a global lifestyle and hospitality brand," Stone says. "We have a tremendous amount of admiration for Steve, Matt and the entire RSE family, and it's really humbling that they personally believe in the potential of growing our brand together. In this rapidly changing digital world, Bluestone Lane seeks to provide our locals with a genuine daily escape, where they feel special and connected to our brand and team, whether that's for a quick coffee or a full meal."
Since launching in 2012, RSE has proven itself as a strategic partner to scalable consumer and lifestyle concepts with strong digital presences and loyal customer bases.
Bluestone Lane complements RSE's existing portfolio of consumer brands, which includes Momofuku, Milk Bar and &pizza, as well as marketing and technology companies such as VaynerMedia and Resy.
The firm's strategic resources will help bolster Bluestone Lane's presence as a premium lifestyle brand. Ross, RSE cofounder and chairman, brings deep real estate expertise as the founder and chairman of Related Companies, which owns Equinox and SoulCycle. Higgins, RSE cofounder and CEO, brings a strong marketing and communications background, having cofounded and operated several businesses in the space, including public relations firm Derris and Relevent, a multi-national sports, media and entertainment group. He is also co-owner of VaynerMedia and serves as vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, alongside Chairman Ross.
"Bluestone Lane is more than quality coffee with a side of Australian charm. It's a lifestyle of human connection and wellness," adds Higgins, who will join the board of directors. "You can't find that combination elsewhere. The speed and efficiency with which Stone is scaling the business is truly incredible. He's accelerating full-throttle, and that's why Bluestone Lane is winning in the most competitive market for cafés in the U.S. – New York."
With 30 locations, a world-class roastery and training facility in Brooklyn, New York, and additional locations opening in 2018, Bluestone Lane reaches communities in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, San Francisco and Los Angeles – and soon Boston and Austin, Texas. The brand, which has been described as "an elevated Australian coffee and healthy food brand," has received recognition for its rapidly growing popularity, fueled by a personable customer experience and nutritious menu, including signature avocado toast, breakfast grain bowls, an authentically made flat white, wellness lattes and gluten-free pastry offerings. Bluestone Lane is Stone's first retail or hospitality venture and is known for its innovation and digital focus, including becoming entirely cashless in 2016. It has partnered with some of the world's leading lifestyle brands to drive its brand and customer experience, while its community and CSR initiatives have included partnering with Library For All and the Foreseeable Future Foundation.