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Meridian startup Crave raised $7.3 million from local investors to start national rollout

Meridian-based startup Crave Hospitality said it raised $7.3 million from investors – primarily local individuals. Its a so-called “seed round,” which helps startups fund initial operations. Crave launched a restaurant delivery platform in Meridian earlier this year.

StageDotO, the Boise-based venture capital firm, led the funding. CEO Devin Wade told BoiseDev that all the other investors in the seed round are local individuals.

“This round includes multiple local investors,” Crave investor Travis Hawkes said. “I don’t think any company has reached this much seed money from local sources.”

[Hot food delivered? Local cloud kitchen startup Crave adds restaurants – and a pickup option]

Expanding across US

Crave delivery
Crave Delivery’s initial packaging during a soft launch earlier this year. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Wade said they hope to build four additional Crave locations across the US next year, and another ten in 2022. The company will be headquartered in Meridian, in addition to the local delivery operation.

Crave – which is not related to a new Eagle restaurant of the same name – based its model on building a commissary facility with more than a dozen different kitchens. Orders come in via a smartphone app and customers can pick from any restaurant offering. The orders are timed to come out of the kitchen at the same time, where they are bundled together and immediately loaded in a delivery vehicle where they are sent to customer’s homes.

In the Boise area, they will soon operate two facilities – the large hub up and running in Meridian, as well as a smaller location on Broadway in Boise. In larger cities they plan to roll out multiple hubs.

“We look at these cluster opportunities: fast-growing cities with good demographics and above average household size and income,” Wade said. “In a place like Frisco, Texas, the restaurant growth isn’t keeping up with the residents. There might be a great steakhouse in (Dallas), but not out where people live. If we can hit this neighborhoods, we’ve got a shot at picking up those customers.”

Wade said they could build a series of Crave facilities that ring a large metro area, allowing them to deliver to large swaths of a region.

“We can build two or three of these hubs, or seven or eight in a place like Dallas,” he said.

Crave looks to launch next year in Salt Lake City/Provo, UT, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, Mesa/Chandler, AZ and Denver, CO.

[Update: Killer Creamery scoops up $1.5M from private investors]

Back office in Meridian

While the kitchens and delivery staff will live and work in each market, most back-office functions will originate out of Meridian.

“Our engineering, support and customer care will happen at our headquarters,” Wade said. “The facilities will focus on the culinary aspects and everything else will be handled at the corporate level.”

StageDotO’s Mike Self said he thinks there’s significant opportunity for the Crave concept, which brings together both the culinary side and delivery side of the offering. It differs from common food delivery concepts like DoorDash or Uber Eats – which rely on three separate groups: the owner of the app (i.e. Door Dash), the restaurant operator and an independent contractor who does the deliveries.

“Consumer demand for restaurant delivery has been rapidly growing for the past five years with the pandemic only accelerating this trend and expanding the customer base,” Self said. “Crave has brought together a collection of top chefs and restauranteurs on one platform to provide an elevated experience…”

“We are a startup, and we started in Boise and that’s pretty cool,” Wade said.

Crave said in a release it plans to start its next fundraising round early next year.

Disclosure: Crave is a sponsor of BoiseDev’s takeout guide. It had no role in the selection or production of this story.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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