- New York City-based Dig, a vegetable-centric, multi-format restaurant group, has raised $65 million in Series F funding backed by new and existing investors including Danny Meyer's Enlightened Hospitality Investments, Avalt, Kitchen Fund, Monogram Capital Partners and Inherent Group, according to a press release sent to Restaurant Dive.
- The funding will allow the restaurant to reopen key locations that were temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and add units in new markets. Dig aims to grow from 30 to 60 units over the next three years.
- Dig joins a growing list of up-and-coming private restaurant companies, including Just Salad, Cava, Mighty Quinn's Barbecue and Torchy's Tacos, that have raised significant funds from investors to plot expansion.
The funding will also support Dig's plans and commitments to its employees, and further its mission of offering a vegetable-focused menu cooked from scratch.
The restaurant has been rolling out and testing new benefits to boost retention and improve overall workplace dynamics. It tested a four-day workweek model over the past 12 months in Boston and Philadelphia, and saw positive impacts on team members' work/life balance and job efficiency. The company plans to study this model and expand it to new markets in 2022. Dig also added four months of fully-paid parental leave in May for all salaried employees, from support team to chefs.
Earlier in the pandemic, Dig provided COVID-19 bonuses for hourly employees. The company has since shifted to permanent hourly pay increases, and wages now average more than $17.75 in Boston and more than $18.50 in New York City. Full-time salaried employees that have stayed with the restaurant through the pandemic receive "gratitude" bonuses in recognition of "hard work and dedication over the last 18 months," the company said in the press release.
Dig also puts its chefs through a six-week program at a teaching kitchen. Over the next three years, the company plans to grow this program into an immersive educational platform with analog and digital experiences in areas from cooking basics to business strategy.
The ongoing labor shortage in the restaurant industry is among the biggest hurdles for growth for many chains, but Dig's generous employee benefits, will likely help the company hire and retain the necessary talent it needs to open new locations. While restaurant wages have been climbing to attract more employees, however, many workers still aren't coming back.
Dig also announced it is working with New York City to develop a company-supported daycare in addition to its parental leave benefit. This could be a huge differentiator for employees. Childcare has long been a sticking point for many workers in the industry, many of whom have said they've lost shifts, promotions or overtime opportunities in the past due to childcare issues. McDonald's franchisees are also boosting hourly pay and benefits, and some operators began offering childcare this summer as a way to attract employees.