C3 (Creating Culinary Communities), the global food tech platform founded by Sam Nazarian, Monday announced $80 million in Series B funding co-led by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and REEF Technology with participation from Egon Durban and Greg Mondre, managing partners and co-CEOs of Silver Lake Partners, along with Dean Adler, cofounder of real estate investment firm Lubert-Adler.
The tech-enabled food company is disrupting the industry through an omnichannel approach for food industry solutions via tech, real estate, and food service. C3’s approach combines on-site eateries with digital kitchens, grab-and-go, and online ordering and delivery. With more than 40 world-class restaurant brand I.P.s and the expansion of brick-and-mortar culinary spaces, the company believes it’s well on their way to solving the problem of underutilized assets for the retail and hospitality industries.
The funding follows the recent launch of C3’s CITIZENS GO app, allowing consumers to order across multiple restaurant brands with items arriving in one delivery. CITIZENS GO checks are 78 percent higher than any other client on the Lunchbox platform. It also follows the Series A funding led by initial investors Accor Hotels and Simon Property Group.
“I’m thrilled to partner and have the support of leading industry partners Accor Hotels, Simon Property Group, Brookfield Global Partners, REEF Technology, Graduate Hotels, Chowly, WK Holding, and Kitopi in bringing C3 to the world,” says Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of C3. “With the support of these distinguished partners, we have the ability to prioritize C3 as the global end-to-end solution for restaurants, real estate, and digital industries through C3’s platform of world-class brands.”
Nazarian continues, “through C3’s global food tech platform we are able to provide tech solutions to unlock and create value for all of our partners, driving global solutions and profits from underutilized restaurant kitchens and real estate space. This coupled with our world-renowned roster of chef partners such as Masaharu Morimoto, Dario Cecchini, Katsuya Uechi, Dani Garcia has C3 bringing “main street to every street” in the US and abroad.”
As part of C3’s expansion, C3 is adding Kevin McCrain, managing director in Brookfield’s Real Estate Group, to their board of directors. He will join existing board members Nazarian, Eli Simon, vice president corporate investments at Simon Property Group and Gaurav Bhushan, global chief development officer of Accor Hotels.
“C3 is a leader in the food tech space because they don’t fit into just one box and the key is that Sam and C3 haven’t forgotten their hospitality roots,” says McCrain. “Ultimately, consumers need to be able to “touch” a digital concept for it to last, and C3 has found a way to convert their extremely successful digital brands into lifestyle experiences, whether through the CITIZENS GO app, food halls or lifestyle front-of-house dine-in experiences — all of which can be executed out of a single real estate space. Nobody else is doing this to C3’s level.”
The funding raise includes C3’s commitment to lease at a variety of mixed-use, retail, and hospitality spaces helmed by the world’s leading real estate developers. These leases will be used to open CITIZENS food hall locations across the country as well as physical locations for C3’s 40+ world-class digital restaurant brands, the company’s EllaMia café concept, and standalone full-service restaurants—many of which will become supplemental space for additional C3 brands, executed through shared ghost kitchens for mobile ordering and delivery through the CITIZENS GO app.
The company has already been ahead of competitors with a number of industry firsts, including the expansion of ghost kitchens into hotels and residential real estate complexes. Earlier this year the company launched Graduate Food Hall, a new delivery-focused, hybrid digital kitchen concept, debuting in Graduate Hotels across the country. C3 also established a partnership with Akara Living to integrate ghost kitchens into all future Kenect buildings, one of Akara Living’s serviced apartment communities.
Building a network of ghost kitchens around the world, C3 recently announced a 50/50 $100 million joint venture with House W.K. Holdings to expand C3’s roster of brands into Saudi Arabia and a partnership with Kitopi, the largest managed cloud kitchen platform, to bring their signature brands to the United Arab Emirates. Through a recent a partnership with Chowly, a leading point-of-sale (POS) integration company, C3 is Chowly’s exclusive virtual restaurant referral and promotion partner, expanding C3’s reach to Chowly’s portfolio of more than 10,000 kitchens. To date, the company has opened more than 250 digital brand locations in the U.S., will have 1,000 by year’s end, and is on track for 12,000 kitchens globally by 2023.
To date, C3 has hired more than 3,500 employees across the U.S. with plans to hire another 5,000 employees domestically and internationally with offices in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Recent executive hires include Helen Springut, formerly of Sidebar, PlateiQ Inc., and Caviar Inc., to oversee C3’s aggressive expansion plans as vice president of business development.