Dinner Lab, the exclusive dining club taking the country by storm, is booming following a recent influx of cash, and they need more hands on deck.
The membership-based startup connects undiscovered chefs with adventurous diners who want to experience a meal with good company in a new location each time. The company that launched in New Orleans a couple years ago is now fully operational in 19 other markets, including: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and St. Louis.
In June, Dinner Lab announced that they had closed a seed funding round at $2.1 million, which was led by Chairman of the Board at Whole Foods and Director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship at Tulane, Dr. John Elstrott, along with additional angel investors.
Edie Feinstein, who has the official title of Jack-of-All-Trades at Dinner Lab, said the recent funding has enabled the startup to keep hiring. “It takes a lot of people to make this company run.” She said they are actively hiring for many different positions, which people can check out at dinnerlab.theresumator.com/apply.
Dinner Lab has now released more information about their plans for growth. Director of Human Resources Hallie Dietsch says they plan to build their tech team to 25 people over the next 12 to 18 months. The team, which will still be based in New Orleans, will include back-end developers, UI/UX, graphic designers and more. “What’s most important to us is that the growth is intentional–we are looking for the right talent and culture fit, not just resumes that match job descriptions,” she continued.
Their ideal candidate is passionate and, of course, a food lover. Dietsch said, “This is especially important for our new developer to share–we are looking for somebody who is excited dive into this mix and think about strategy, not just execution.” The Dinner Lab team has one thing in common: they are all passionate about what they are doing as a company, and the work they do day in and day out.
Make no mistake, with major success in so many markets and a plan for growth moving full speed ahead, the startup still faces its challenges. The biggest issue faced with the rapid growth of the company is scaling up operations, according to Feinstein. “We survived for a long time on a maze of google docs and spreadsheets and are going through the pain now of transitioning all of that to salesforce.”
Feinstein also mentioned competition. “There are a bunch of smaller pop ups in all of our cities. These usually happen a few times a year with the same chef and location. What separates Dinner Lab is that we operate in 20 markets, and put on events one to three times a week in each market, with rotating chefs and venues.” Each Dinner Lab member has access to attend events in any of the 20 markets, making it a unique organization to be a part of.
Moving forward, Dinner Lab is looking at Boston, Kansas City and Seattle as possible cities for expansion.
The startup is also host to a chef competition that spurred three finalists who are now making their way through the Dinner Lab markets for a second time, and getting their business plans together. “Once the tour concludes at the end of November,” explains Feinstein, “they will be pitching their restaurant concept to a panel of investors we gather, and one or more of them will open their own restaurant.”
To find out more about Dinner Lab, visit dinnerlab.com.
[Disclosure: Dinner Lab co-founder Zach Kupperman is also the owner of Silicon Bayou Media, LLC, the parent organization of SiliconBayouNews.com].