Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer's nostalgia for hometown frozen custard leads to investment in e-commerce site Goldbelly

Key Points
  • Goldbelly raises $20 million in Series B funding led by Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer's Enlightened Hospitality Investments.
  • Founded by Joe Ariel, Goldbelly was created not to bring the fastest or cheapest meal to your door, but the most authentic.

When an unsolicited six pack of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard arrived at Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer's door four years ago, he became nostalgic about his hometown.

The package had been sent by Goldbelly, an online marketplace for regional and artisanal foods.

"I had absolutely no idea you could even get Ted Drewes other than going home to St. Louis," Meyer told CNBC in an interview from New York. "I was smitten."

After checking out Goldbelly's site, Meyer said, he found that he could order from his favorite barbecue places halfway across the country or buy muffaletta from a spot in New Orleans with just a click.

This affection for Goldbelly persuaded Meyer to lead a $20 million round of Series B funding for the company through Enlightened Hospitality. That group is a $200 million seed fund Meyer helped found a year ago through his Union Square Hospitality Group.

Enlightened Hospitality makes $10 million to $20 million investments in what it calls innovative growth companies "that are category leaders and share USHG's 'Enlightened Hospitality' strategy and mindset of prioritizing employees among all other stakeholders," it said at the time. The idea is that happier employees make for happier customers and better investor returns.

It has also invested in Salt & Straw, a West Coast-based ice cream shop, Joe's Coffee Company, a New York-based coffee chain, and Resy, an e-commerce reservation platform.

Goldbelly (formerly Goldbely) announced Tuesday that the $20 million it has raised in this round will go toward scaling its operations and marketing. Previous investors Intel Capital, 500 Startups and 645 Ventures also kicked in more capital. The Wall Street Journal reported that Enlightened Hospitality took a $15 million stake in the company.

Founded by Joe Ariel, Goldbelly was created not to bring the fastest or cheapest meal to your door, but the most authentic. It's like Seamless Web food delivery on steroids. Customers can order a local Chicago deep dish pizza or a Primanti Brothers sandwich from Pittsburgh and have it sent almost any where across the country overnight.

Meyer sees Goldbelly as a place for customers to relive their favorite food memories and to share them with others, whether it is a favorite college ice cream spot in Pennsylvania, or specialty crab cakes you can only get in Maryland.

"This is the future," he said. "The future is the past when it comes to food."

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