Danny Meyer’s stake in the hospitality industry continues to grow: His investment fund Enlightened Hospitality Investments has put cash in restaurant website designer Bentobox, marking its seventh investment overall.
Union Square Hospitality Group’s chief investment officer and Enlightened co-managing partner Mark Leavitt declined to disclose the size of the investment but said that Enlightened is a minority partner. The partnership came into play since USHG already uses Bentobox for its websites. The service also handles gift cards, catering, and event tickets — all “high-margin revenue opportunities,” or things that directly generate money, making the company more attractive, Leavitt says.
Now in its third year, Enlightened has used about half of its initial $200 million capital, investing in Joe Coffee Company, Portland ice cream startup Salt & Straw, food shipping service Goldbelly, reservation app Resy, and event management software Gather. Investments tend to be in the $10 million to $20 million range, like the $15 million that went to lunch chain Dig Inn.
Leavitt says they didn’t initially anticipate investing in so many technology companies but that it’s “reflective of the opportunities we see in the technology space right now”; he expects technology company investments to continue. The team has grown to six people who look for “businesses that we wish we had thought of ourselves,” Leavitt says.
So far, the company has seen a return on its investment at Resy, which sold to American Express earlier this year.