Inviting Investment

Eric Luciano

Crowdfunding enables restaurateurs to raise money from friends and fans they haven’t even met.

Crowdfunding Campaigns

Successful restaurant ventures, with money raised ranging from $5,000 to more than $50,000, speak to the viability of raising money virtually.


New York City Destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, this Big Apple eatery raised over $50,000 on Indiegogo in November 2012 to jumpstart its reconstruction. Owners used the cash to hire contractors, sign a new 10-year lease, and install a second bathroom.

The Hog's Apothecary

Oakland, California This American-style beer hall and gastropub raised over $20,000 on Indiegogo in 2013, capital that owners Bradford Earle and John Streit devoted to the restaurant's finishing touches, such as custom-welded lights, bar stools, and stainless tap systems.


Brooklyn, New York Seeking funds to purchase eco-friendly kitchen equipment, reclaimed wood, countertops, light fixtures, and dining room furniture, Brooklyn start-up Littleneck turned to Kickstarter in the summer of 2011. Hoping to raise $8,000, the New England–style clam shack earned $13,000 from 162 backers.

The Owl

Greenville, South Carolina After a successful first year, The Owl launched its Indiegogo campaign to add seating, build a deck, and buy a new sign. Though the restaurant fell short of its $12,000 goal, restaurant owners Justi and Aaron Manter put the $5,274 raised toward opening in a new location early this year.

When Steve Postal opened the doors to Commonwealth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last November, he did so with a mighty assist from 220 financial backers.

Postal, in fact, represents a growing legion of full-service chefs and restaurateurs turning to crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Foodstart to propel restaurant development.

The Boston-based chef created Commonwealth’s Kickstarter campaign in August 2013 with the hopes of raising $50,000, a small slice of his $2 million start-up costs. Thirty days later, Postal had raised nearly $70,000 from those aforementioned 220 supporters, funds he used to install shelving, purchase kitchen equipment, and acquire start-up inventory.

“A lot of people want to pitch in to something they believe in or show their support, but can’t write the big checks. Crowdfunding gives them that chance and is a win-win for all involved,” Postal says.

Once a space dominated by artists, musicians, and filmmakers, crowdfunding continues expanding into the restaurant industry. First embraced by food trucks, caterers, and quick-service establishments, crowdfunding has traveled up the industry ladder and is now hitting the full-service category—the most cost-intensive of all restaurant endeavors—with increasing force.

“Restaurants are getting more expensive to open and you can only charge customers so much to make up the difference,” Postal says. “With that, I only see crowdfunding growing.”

By providing restaurant owners quick access to capital, crowdfunding has emerged a unique, welcome alternative to traditional restaurant financing, such as securing bank loans, maxing out credit cards, or raising capital from family, friends, and investors.

“With crowdfunding, restaurant owners are taking the power back into their own hands and letting the crowd directly fund their business,” Indiegogo representative Alexis Blais says.

Crowdfunding Simplified

An online collaborative funding tool, crowdfunding provides enterprises a chance to raise thousands of dollars from dozens of individuals. Unlike traditional investors who seek a financial return on their investment, crowdfunding donors receive distinctive perks ranging from handwritten thank-you notes and free desserts to private dinners and menu items named in their honor.



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