Jeff Appelbaum knew before the pandemic began that food and drink sales were moving “outside the four walls of restaurants.”
 
Wanting to be ahead of the curve, Appelbaum created Salted Inc., a digital fast-casual food brands company.

 
“We’ve seen disruption in other retail categories where the most valuable brands are now digital first,” said Appelbaum.

 
Founded in 2014, Santa Monica-based Salted develops health-conscious digital food brands including Moonbowls, Thrive Kitchen and $5 Salad Co. The company operates 19 kitchens, four of which are in Los Angeles, that prepare and sell fare from its six brands.

 
As the founder of group-buying company DealQuad Inc. and social media marketing company Buzzpoint, Appelbaum is a serial entrepreneur. He started Salted because he wanted to make a business model out of his personal passion: food.  


Salted partners with major delivery companies, such as DoorDash Inc. and Uber Eats, to deliver food to its customers and offers orders directly from each brand’s website or app.


Appelbaum said all of the food Salted produces is “plant-forward,” gluten-free and uses no artificial ingredients.

 
The food delivery market value has tripled since 2017 to $150 billion, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Inc. And according to market research company Euromonitor International, digital brands and ghost kitchens could be a $1 trillion industry globally by 2030.

 
Digital kitchens have particularly taken hold in Los Angeles where Salted competes with companies such as Beverly Hills-based Creating Culinary Communities, better known as C3, Pico Union-based CloudKitchens and Pasadena-based Kitchen United.
Appelbaum said each of Salted’s kitchens now brings in an average of between $1 million and $2.5 million in revenue annually.

 
Investors have seen the value in Salted. The company recently closed a $16 million Series A investment round, bringing its total funding to nearly $25 million. The round was led by Paris-based private equity firm Creadev with participation from San Francisco-based venture capital firm Proof Ventures and Sawtelle-based financial services provider B. Riley Financial Inc.

 
Appelbaum said he plans to use the funding for expansion, which includes hiring, technology development and opening locations across the country. The company employs 230 people.

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