Crave Hospitality Group, which runs the Crave Collective ghost kitchen/virtual restaurant facility in Boise, Idaho, announced today it has raised $7.3 million in seed funding. The round was led by VC firm StageDotO with participation from Capital Eleven and undisclosed individual investors.
Crave said in a press release sent to The Spoon that it plans to use the funding to “build pre-opening teams” for its next four Crave Collective locations, which will open in 2021.
The company is a relatively new player to the ghost kitchen and virtual restaurant space, having opened its Boise, Idaho facility in November of this year. That facility houses 16 restaurant concepts, many of them focused on recreating upscale dining for the virtual restaurant era in which we now find ourselves.
Like other operations in this space, Crave and its restaurant teams process orders digitally, prepare them in designated kitchen spaces for each restaurant, and put them in the hands of delivery drivers to go out to customers. Unlike other operations, Crave employs its own W-2 staff to do the driving, calls those people “mobile servers,” and treats them more like restaurant servers than gig workers. The company also built its own proprietary tech stack to manage the orders, and as we saw when Crave gave us a virtual tour of its Boise facility last week, the location also includes a pickup area for customers that don’t want to pay the extra cost of having food delivered.
All those factors make Crave stand out among competitors in the increasingly saturated ghost kitchen and virtual restaurant markets. Clearly investors think so too, hence this seed funding round.
Crave has an additional 10 more facilities planned for 2022. Among the cities the company will expand to are Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah, Mesa and Chandler, Arizona, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Denver, Colorado. Crave said in today’s press release that “nearly all” of its current restaurant partners will grow along with the company as it opens more locations.