Wonder, the delivery-first restaurant startup founded by entrepreneur Marc Lore, has formed a strategic partnership with food giant Nestlé to help grow Wonder’s B2B division, WonderWorks.
The deal includes a $100 million investment in Wonder by Nestlé, according to CNBC, which cited unnamed sources.
Wonder is a virtual food hall concept that focuses heavily on delivery. It relies on a central commissary to prepare its food, which is then finished in stores using minimal equipment and labor. Customers can order through Wonder's app or website, and the food is delivered by Wonder employees. Through WonderWorks, Wonder is offering this model as a turnkey package to places like hotels and stadiums.
According to CNBC, Nestlé will manufacture the food for WonderWorks clients, while Wonder will be supplying the equipment, which includes specially calibrated TurboChef ovens, water baths and automated fryers.
Nestlé works with foodservice operators of all kinds through its Nestlé Professional division.
“This strategic partnership will allow us to bring an innovative and new-to-market solution to our customers as they look for ways to scale their operations,” a Nestlé spokesperson said in a statement. “It can help them improve food quality, drive labor efficiencies, and open up additional revenue streams.”
For Wonder, the deal is another step toward its goal of becoming a “super app for mealtime.” Besides its five existing food halls in New York and New Jersey, Wonder has also acquired meal kit provider Blue Apron, and now it is moving into noncommercial feeding with Nestlé.
“Wonder's mission is to make great food more accessible, and through our partnership with Nestlé, we're excited to expand the ways customers can experience Wonder,” a Wonder spokesperson said in a statement.
Prior to the Nestlé investment, Wonder had raised about $850 million to fuel its growth. By the end of the year, it expects to open 10 more food halls, and Lore said there could be as many as 7,000 Wonders one day all over the country.
Lore has experience building large, innovative companies. He co-founded ecommerce pioneer Diapers.com, which was acquired by Amazon. He then started the Amazon competitor Jet.com, which was acquired by Walmart. He spent more than four years as CEO of Walmart’s ecommerce business.
With Wonder, he set out to improve the quality of food delivery. The company began as a fleet of vans with kitchens inside that could cook meals in customers' driveways. When the vans proved too expensive, Wonder pivoted to a more traditional brick-and-mortar arrangement. Its food halls serve up to 21 different concepts, including existing restaurants like DiFara Pizza; chef-backed brands like Bobby Flay Steak; and proprietary creations like Limesalt.