Salted, a Los Angeles-based startup creating digitally native quick-service restaurant brands, brought in a new round of $16 million in Series A funding to continue its nationwide expansion.
The company was founded seven years ago by CEO Jeff Applebaum, but a focus on providing healthy QSR brands and going after the $325 billion food delivery space came about three years ago. Applebaum told TechCrunch that he aims to be “the Yum! Brands for the digital age.”
Salted has created six brands so far, including moonbowls, Califlower Pizza and lulubowls, and serves food from Chinese takeout to pizza to salads.
“Our technology and Salted Analytics product helps us grow at the rate we want to and still maintain customer experience,” Applebaum said. “We don’t consider ourselves a ghost kitchen, but a builder of budding brands that are going to be around for a hundred years. The great value is going to be in the brand layer, similar to Domino’s and Panda Express, which are scaling brands that people love.”
Creadev led the Series A that also included Proof Ventures and B. Riley Financial. The new investment joins with a $4 million seed round raised in May. At that time, Applebaum was using the funds for growth, and that strategy will continue with this new funding toward his goal of “building the next Chipotle,” he said.
The company has over 200 employees, including kitchen staff, and recently opened its 19th location. It is serving food in seven states, including California, Illinois and Ohio, and each location operates four to six brands. Applebaum expects to have over 50 locations by next year.
The locations are already collectively showing profitably and are generating between $1 million and $2.5 million in annual sales, he added.
Adrien Lejal, investment director at Creadev, said he was attracted to Salted because the company “doesn’t take shortcuts in the healthier food options and stands true to its mission, which speaks to the values of the team.”
He has been following the company for about 18 months and decided to jump in when the company started raising its A round. The QSR space isn’t one Creadev typically invests in, but Lejal said it does invest across the food chain and in companies that have “huge scalability potential,” and Salted was an interesting example, he added.
“The company as it is now was founded in 2018 and is already operating in seven states and combines scalability with execution, quality and speed,” Lejal said. “We also definitely invest in people first and Jeff’s leadership and management style is very impressive in the way he is reaching milestones in a short period of time.”
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