- C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) has raised $80 million in Series B funding co-led by Brookfield Asset Management and Reef Technology, according to a press release. Additional investors included Egon Durban and Greg Mondre, managing partners and co-CEOs of Silver Lake Partners, and Dean Adler, co-founder of real estate investment firm Lubert-Adler.
- As part of this investment, Reef has committed to carrying C3 brands, which include Umami Burger, Krispy Rice and Sam's Crispy Chicken, in 500 of its ghost kitchens in the U.S.
- This funding comes a few weeks after news of the company's partnership with Chowly, in which it will offer C3's 40 virtual brands to Chowly's portfolio of over 10,000 kitchen clients. C3 also recently launched its Citizens Go app, which allows consumers to order from multiple C3 brands at checkout for one order.
C3 is on a rapid expansion push, with plans to reach 12,000 locations by 2023. The company has committed to lease a variety of mixed-use retail and hospitality spaces, where it will open food halls as well as physical locations for its virtual restaurant brands, the company's EllaMia cafe concept and its standalone full-service restaurants — many of which will become supplemental space for C3 brands. The food tech company previously agreed to open a 40,000-square-foot food hall at Brookfield Properties Manhattan West in New York City during the summer and a 24,000-square-foot food hall at a Simon property in Atlanta in 2022.
C3's collaboration comes during a growth period for Reef, which raised $700 million in November to help it expand from around 4,800 locations to 10,000 in the U.S., creating more opportunities for C3 to extend its brands into new markets.
Previously, C3 executed a deal with Graduate Hotels to launch Graduate Food Hall, a delivery-focused hybrid kitchen concept to appear in these hotels across the country. It also partnered with Akara Living to integrate ghost kitchens into future Kenect apartment buildings. The company is also planning expansions into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with other recent tie-ups.
The host kitchen space, which uses underutilized, existing kitchen space to operate restaurant brands, has become a growing area of business within the virtual brand space because it gives existing restaurants an added revenue stream through takeout and delivery channels. In October, Ordermark, which operates several virtual restaurant brands through Nextbite, raised $120 million in funding. At the time, Nextbite operated 15 virtual brands, such as The Big Melt and Wild Wild Wings, in 1,000 locations.
Other host kitchen providers are expanding their partnerships with outside brands. Franklin Junction has grown its tie-ups with restaurants, for example, including a deal with Nathan's Famous to bring Arthur Treacher's to 100 host kitchens by the end of the year. Combo Kitchens expects to open Dickey's Barbecue Pit in 100 new or existing restaurants within the next year.