Shake Shack Founder Danny Meyer is looking to back upscale fast casuals focused on taking care of employees, according to a story in NY Eater.
His company, Union Square Hospitality Group, which last year formed a private equity fund — Enlightened Hospitality Investments LP — has gathered investors to collect $200 million.
USHG Chief Investment Officer Mark Leavitt said the company wants to back fast casual concepts that are not only scale-able, but also offer competitive salaries and benefits not common in the restaurant and hospitality industries.The group is also looking for brands that offer “crave-able foods” and have a strong management team and following.
New York’s Joe Coffee is one company that fit the criteria; USHG announced in January that it would help the 14-unit coffee chain expand its footprint in New York, Philadelphia and beyond.
“We chose to make this investment with Joe Coffee because they are dedicated to the pursuit of making flawless coffee, are led by passionate and exceptional management, and share the same hospitality values as USHG,” Meyer said in a January company press release.
Neither USHG nor Enlightened Hospitality own a percentage of Joe Coffee, per se.
“We are passive, minority investors,” Leavitt told NY Eater. “We back them to do what they think is best for business.”
The company has also invested in West Coast ice cream company, Salt &Straw.
Although the private-equity fund quietly started in 2016, Leavitt said he expects it to “get more interesting” about a year from now, as the group ramps up its investments.
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