When the pandemic started last spring, Di Fara, one of New York City’s storied pizza joints, had the same question as countless restaurants nationwide: How would it make any money when customers weren’t allowed through its doors?
One answer quickly emerged: Ship frozen (and slightly smaller) versions of its classic pies across the country in partnership with the eight-year-old e-commerce platform Goldbelly.
Sales picked up so much that Di Fara converted its two-year-old second location, in a food hall, to essentially be a Goldbelly production line. Margaret Mieles, the daughter of Di Fara’s founder, who had already struck an agreement with Goldbelly in December 2019, credits the platform with helping the pizzeria avoid layoffs.
It isn’t just iconic pizzerias that have relied on Goldbelly to survive lockdown orders. More than 400 of the 850 restaurants that sell food on Goldbelly’s platform have joined since the start of the pandemic, an influx that the company says has more than quadrupled sales over the past 12 months.
On the back of that boon, Goldbelly plans to announce this week that it has raised $100 million in new funding.
The question now is whether the trends that Goldbelly and its new investors plan to capitalize on will outlast the pandemic, or whether a surge in at-home dining will abate as more people feel comfortable eating in restaurants again.
Goldbelly, which was founded in San Francisco in 2013, began by offering foods like deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s in Chicago and Texas-style brisket from the Salt Lick in Austin. What it offers restaurants is largely logistics: providing the boxes and cold packs for shipping orders, and helping restaurants ship directly from their premises. In return, Goldbelly charges a fee, leading to premium prices. Shipping two Classic Neapolitan Pizzas from Di Fara, for example, costs $89.
“We’re the first platform for food e-commerce, national e-commerce for restaurants and food-makers,” Joe Ariel, Goldbelly’s co-founder and chief executive, said in an interview. “We’re basically opening up a 3,000-mile radius for restaurants.”