Dig Inn Raises $20 Million in Funding Round Led by Danny Meyer's Investment Group

The farm-to-table fast casual Dig Inn has secured $20 million in a funding round, led by Danny Meyer's Enlightened Hospitality Investments.

Dig Inn founder and CEO Adam Eskin announced the latest investment in a post on Medium where he also shared what the company plans to do with the additional funding.

The fast casual has been expanding rapidly. With 26 store locations in New York and Boston. But the latest funding round will help the brand launch in a new market- Philly and the company is also aiming to open an additional 10 stores.

To do that, the chain is going to need more manpower. So the restaurant will be ramping up its hiring.

"We’ll hire another 300 men and women, many of which have never stepped foot in a restaurant kitchen, and teach them that knife skills are life skills, and how learning how to cook can change everything," writes Eskin for "Medium."

The chain has now raised $71.5 million total. Dig Inn, which was founded about 7 years ago, is one of the leading trendy concepts aiming to bring healthy, all-natural food with fast service to customers.

With its new partnership with the Danny Meyer team, the restaurant will also be ramping up its supply of healthy vegetables.

"We’ll supply our restaurants with over 8 million pounds of vegetables from the 80+ farmers that make up our growing community, including 100,000 pounds from our own Farmer Larry Tse, his team, and his newly launched Young Farmer Incubator Program," writes Eskin.

The chain will focus on not only expansion and increasing food supply but it will be expanding it's delivery service and opening a full-service concept in New York City's West Village as well.

Read more at "Restaurant Dive" now.

Chains like Dig Inn with veggie-forward menus that deliver are going to stand out in today's market. Plant-based consumption was up 300% last year. Although the demand is high for these menu items, there aren't that many restaurants offering delivery of plant-based meals. Watch the On Foodable: Industry Pulse episode below to learn more about how consumers are wanting more plant-based food delivery options.

Burger King is the Latest QSR to Serve the Plant-Based Impossible Burger

The plant-based company Impossible Foods has partnered with yet another massive quick-serve chain.

On Monday, Impossible Foods announced that the Impossible Whopper will now be available at 59 Burger King stores in the surrounding area of St. Louis, Missouri.

Since the announcement was made on April Fools, the "burger giant released a hidden-camera-style promo video showing the serving of plant-based Whoppers instead of meat to customers who marvel that they cannot tell the difference," writes "Reuters."

Burger King decided to partner with the plant-based company because the Impossible Burger not only mimics the looks of a traditional beef burger but it is similar in taste.

“We’ve done sort of a blind taste test with our franchisees, with people in the office, with my partners on the executive team, and virtually nobody can tell the difference," said Christopher Finazzo, Burger King’s North America president.

The Impossible Whopper is priced about $1 more than the traditional Whopper.

As we said, Burger King isn't the only fast food burger chain jumping on the plant-based bandwagon by partnering with Impossible Foods.

In April of last year, White Castle started serving the Impossible Slider. After the success of the menu item at 140 test stores, the chain announced that the Impossible Slider would be available nationwide.

Burger King is the first big chain to serve the Impossible Burger with the company’s new recipe. Earlier in the year, Impossible Foods change the recipe so that it is gluten-free. The company decided to switch out the wheat protein for a soy protein concentrate. The new patty also has no animal hormones or antibiotics either, along with less salt.

Learn more about the Impossible Whopper at "Reuters" now.

Veggie-burger companies have been battling it out to capture more of the market share. Impossible Foods' rival Beyond Meat has been more focused on retail, but in January Beyond Meat announced that it would be rolling out its plant-based Beyond Burger at the QSR Carl’s Jr.

Beyond Meat, which recently went public, has more of an expansive product line, which includes "chicken" strips, "beef" crumble, and "sausage"– all made out of plants, non-GMO soy, and pea protein.

We recently sat down with Ethan Brown, the CEO of Beyond Meat to discuss why plant-based foods have become so popular. Listen to the episode of The Barron Report below to see what Brown thinks the future holds for the plant-based market and to learn more about Beyond Meat's role in the movement.

Farm Burger Rolls Out New Sustainable Catfish Sandwich

Farm Burger Blue Catfish sandwich |   Sara Hanna Photography

Farm Burger Blue Catfish sandwich | Sara Hanna Photography

Not only do we have more vegetarian consumers today, but there are also more flexitarians. These are eaters that only occasionally eat meat to make less of an environmental impact.

The plant-based movement has encouraged eaters to seek more alternative proteins. With that in mind, the fast casual chain Farm Burger is one of the restaurants to recently partner with the plant-based company Impossible Foods to offer the Impossible Burger, a veggie burger that even bleeds.

But the chain is also getting more creative with its menu options and is rolling out the Chesapeake Bay Blue Catfish sandwich, a move to promote a more sustainable protein.

"Farm Burger carries the Impossible Burger in all 11 locations nationwide as a plant-based meat alternative for customers. We had been looking to incorporate seafood onto the menu for a while and wanted to craft a sandwich that would fit well with our menu and match our sustainable ethos. As we learned more about the Blue Catfish and the environmental issues associated with it, it seemed to meet all of our criteria: tasty, sustainable and thought-provoking," said Cameron Thompson, Farm Burger executive chef.

The sandwich, which was strategically launched right before Lent to cater to Fish Fridays, is topped with Farm Burger slaw and house-made pickled jalapeños. The catfish sandwich will be available at Farm Burger stores starting March 5th.

The Southern-based fast casual chain wanted to make sure the sandwich still fit in on the menu with the other items, so the chain took a culinary twist on a traditional catfish sandwich.

"Crispy catfish and slaw, to me, is a classic combination like peanut butter and jelly. The slaw is tossed in our signature FB sauce to add some Farm Burger flair to a classic pairing. We're rounding out the meal with Old Bay fries as a tribute to the Chesapeake region," said Thompson.

Read more about the new menu item at Farm Burger at "Forbes" now.

We visited Farm Burger for a past episode of Fast Casual Nation back in 2015. Watch the video below as Host Paul Barron sits down with George Frangos, owner and operator at Farm Burger to learn more about the up-and-coming brand. Prepare to drool as they showcase some of the most popular menu items.

Chipotle Launches New Mentorship Program for Start-Ups

10 years ago, Chipotle emerged as the darling of the fast casual segment. Other concepts in the segment were all striving to be the Chipotle of their category. But ever since Chipotle's food safety crisis back in 2015, the chain has been on a long road to recovery.

However, with the hire of former Taco Bell executive Brian Niccol and new menu additions, the restaurant's stock has gradually climbed in the last year. Analyst Andy Barish recently predicted that investing in the chain is a smart move in 2019.

The chain has announced its latest move to change the future of food, it will be partnering with the non-profit Uncharted to launch the Chipotle Aluminaries Project, a program that will help food start-ups grow.

"Since our founding, Chipotle has been committed to cultivating a better world, and we believe the best way to lead the future of food is to inspire others to come along with us on the journey and be a force for good in our industry," said Brian Niccol, Chipotle CEO in a statement.

Eight food companies have been selected based on innovation.

Some of the start-ups include-

American Ostrich Farms: an ostrich meat producer. This meat makes much less of an ecological impact.

Grubtubs Inc.: a company that makes animal feed made from food waste.

Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood: a plant-based seafood producer.

AgVoice: a mobile voice-interaction service designed for food and agriculture professionals that helps them tracks animal and plant production.

The eight companies selected to participate will attend a 5-day boot camp where they will get insights and advice from industry leaders like some Chipotle executives and the entrepreneur Kimbal Musk.

The participants will also be meeting with their mentors one-on-one to get investor training and guidance on their business.

"At Chipotle, we feel we have a responsibility and opportunity to forge a path to a more sustainable food future," said Caitlin Leibert, Chipotle's Director of Sustainability.

Read more about the new program at "Forbes" now.

On a recent episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron explains why he thinks the chain's recent introduction of its Lifestyle Bowls was a slamdunk. Watch the video below to learn more about Chipotle's latest move to not only appeal to health-conscious eaters but to reclaim its top spot in the fast casual market.

Impossible Foods to Roll Out Plant-Based Steak

Impossible Foods, one of the leading companies in the plant-based market, isn't only going to sell its popular veggie-burger. Instead, the company is also working on developing a plant-based steak product, according to a recent interview with Impossible Foods' CEO Patrick Brown.

Brown said that a veggie steak that even meateaters love could be "the most impactful thing" the company does.

"[Steak] has huge symbolic value,” said Brown to "The Spoon." "If we can make an awesomely delicious world-class steak ... that will be very disruptive not just to the beef industry, but to other sectors of the meat industry."

However, developing a steak formula isn't easy. A steak marbling and texture is difficult to replicate without using any animal products at all.

Just last week, Impossible Foods announced that its Impossible Burger will have a new recipe that is gluten-free after the company decided to switch out the wheat protein for a soy protein concentrate. The new patty also has no animal hormones or antibiotics either, along with less salt. The new burger patty also has the consistency to be used as ground meat now, meaning it has multiple applications besides just being a veggie burger.

While Impossible Foods is experimenting with new products, it's Impossible Burger has become one of the most popular veggie burgers out there. It's vegan, yet it bleeds like a real burger. The company has focused on the restaurant market and White Castle now serves the Impossible Slider for $1.99.

The company's mission to offer an alternative to meat products, as it says on its website "using animals to make meat is a prehistoric and destructive technology."

Read more about Impossible Foods’ mission to launch a steak product at “Food Dive” now.

But the higher cost of plant-based burgers could be detouring consumers, especially meat eaters from selecting them as their protein option.

Impossible Foods' rival Beyond Burger has focused on retail and sells its plant-based burger for $5.99 for two patties at grocery stores. This is more than half the price for real beef burgers.

But Beyond Meat, which recently went public, has more of an expansive product line, which includes "chicken" strips, "beef" crumble, and "sausage"– all made out of plants, non-GMO soy, and pea protein.

We recently sat down with Ethan Brown, the CEO of Beyond Meat to discuss why plant-based foods have become so popular. Listen to the episode of The Barron Report below where Host Paul Barron talks to Brown about the future of the plant-based market and Beyond Meat's role in the movement.