Mark Leavitt on 2020 NRN Power List

As chief investment officer for Danny’s Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and partner of the affiliated investment arm Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), he’s charged with identifying forward-thinking growth companies that are both customer and community focused.

The fund has more than $200 million in commitments from USHG and outside investors to fund what it sees as promising, like-minded companies. Investments include investments in fast-casual brand Dig, delivery platform Goldbelly, website designer Bentobox, third-wave coffee concept Joe Coffee Company and artisan ice cream maker Salt & Straw.

Once notable investment came last summer, when EHI invested $15 million in Dig, then known as Dig Inn, with Danny Meyer citing its efforts to “bring unprecedented and lasting change to our food system.” Within months of the investment, the vegetable-forward fast-casual chain had rebranded as Dig and declared itself “more than a restaurant.” In a post on Medium, founder and CEO Adam Eskin outlined plans to continue adding restaurants, including a full-service operation, add a delivery platform and buy land in Upstate New York to grow vegetables and build a training center. More recently it has begun testing “closed loop” reusable packaging.

As part of the deal, Leavitt took a seat on Dig’s board. He also serves on the boards of other companies EHI has invested in, including Joe Coffee, Salt & Straw and Goldbelly, according to the USHG website.

What’s next? Expect Leavitt and EHI to take additional stakes in growing companies it sees as innovative, or as the company puts it: “winning ideas we wish we’d thought of ourselves led by dynamic people we wish we’d hired.”

Read more at Nation's Restaurant News.