- Hungry, a catering tech platform designed to connect local chefs with catering customers, has raised $10 million in Series C funding from athletes, chefs and existing investors, the company said in a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive.
- The round included investments from Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trail Blazers, Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks, Roquon Smith of the Baltimore Ravens and Laremy Tunsil of the Houston Texans, as well as RGH Capital, which backed the company in previous funding rounds.
- Hungry has received support from Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners, which invested in Stellar, a pizza robot startup, last October.
The company plans to use the funding to reach operational profitability and expand its market reach. Hungry has raised a total of $60 million across funding rounds from a combination of celebrities and celebrity-backed funds, like Marcy Venture Partners, as well as other investment firms, like Ames Waston LLC, and RGH Capital. Previous funding rounds also drew support from chefs including Tom Colicchio and Ming Tsai. The latest funding round, according to the press release, places Hungry’s total valuation at $270 million.
Hungry has expanded from five markets to 13 since 2020, and the company said the return-to-office movement is a bright spot for catering, offering a chance for “exponential growth, improved margins and geographic and product-line expansions.”
Catering programs have seen a resurgence since early 2022. Business-to-business catering sales in nominal dollars reached pre-pandemic levels of $30 billion in late 2022, according to Jim Rand, founder of CaterStrat. While office occupancy still lags pre-pandemic levels, companies like Hungry, which differentiates itself by offering catering from “top local chefs,” could still see success.
Established restaurant brands have leaned into catering over the last year, with Outback launching catering from almost 500 restaurants in April 2022, followed closely by Fuzzy’s Tacos. Subway streamlined the ordering for its catering process last June at the same time it was shaking up its overall menu. Wawa and ezCater partnered to launch the c-store’s catering program systemwide last month. Sweetgreen’s catering expansion has been buoyed by return-to-office, with 80% of orders coming from workplace events and meetings. This slew of changes signals an appetite by brands and companies to grow share as catering recovers past its 2019 levels.
With the cost of borrowing rising as a result of interest rate increases and bank failures, celebrities and athlete partnerships have become a small, but significant source of funds for restaurant companies. Aside from Jay-Z’s aforementioned investment in pizza bots, Shaquille O’Neal has founded a chicken concept, and Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is a major backer of vegan QSR Neat Burger.