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Steph Curry venture capital firm partly backs opening of Local Kitchens in Marin County

A Bay Area venture capital company backed by NBA great Steph Curry has in part provided funding to launch a food hall concept opening in Mill Valley this summer.

San Francisco-based Local Kitchens, founded by former employees of food delivery company DoorDash headquartered two miles away, is preparing to add the Marin County location at 741 East Blithedale Ave. as part of its rapid expansion.

Two years ago, Local Kitchens began to raise what would eventually become $28 million in Series A funding. That included a majority investment by General Catalyst of Cambridge, Mass.,as well as $3 million provided by Human Capital, Pear VC, Fifth Wall and Penny Jar Capital, all California-based firms. Penny Jar Capital is an early-stage venture firm supported by NBA legend Stephen Curry, whose wife, Ayesha, is a known food blogger-turned-cookbook author and entrepreneur.

Local Kitchens Chief Operating Officer Andrew Munday and CEO Jon Goldsmith know all about reinventing oneself. Food on the go is a concept the two men honed at DoorDash, which spokesman Trent Hodson said is “proud to support” in a concept created by its former workers. Munday was an operations manager and Goldsmith served as an engineer.

“One of our goals has been to bring the best food from the cities to the suburbs. I’ve always admired Mill Valley. It’s a lot like Lafayette (East Bay). I feel like Mill Valley could use more selection,” Munday told the Business Journal of the new planned location at 741 E. Blithedale Ave..

Munday and Goldsmith, joined by Chief Technology Officer Jordan Bramble, have set out to transform the restaurant experience by creating a food hall, allowing customers to mix and match menu items under one roof and check out in one place. A common area is set up for diners to sit.

The eatery idea has taken hold in six locations so far, including Cupertino, Mountain View, Lafayette, Palo Alto, San Jose and Roseville. A Davis location is due to open by next month, with Campbell and Los Gatos joining Mill Valley in July.

“This way people don’t have to stand in four different lines ordering four different times,” Munday said.

By ordering either by mobile app, website or through an on-site kiosk, diners can choose a sampling of dishes from multiple restaurants.

In turn, the handful of restaurant operators under one roof may serve up their specialties without dealing with the operational concerns of running a brick-and-mortar business on their own, the company contends. It has signed up 15 partner restaurants, three of which will be found at the Mill Valley location.

The Marin County spot, which is expected to open east of Lomita Drive, will feature The Melt, Oren’s Hummus and The Plant, food truck-type businesses for diners on the go.

General Catalyst Managing Director Kyle Doherty’s company was on board with providing capital ($25 million) early on as the food service startup took off.

“Local Kitchens has developed a unique model that works for local restaurant owners, and we’re excited to support it,” Doherty said in a statement.

Local Kitchens declined to discuss company revenue.

Funding from Curry-backed Penny Jar Capital was formed last year and came on board last summer.

Will the neighbors throw out the welcome mat?

Meridian Commercial Managing Director Scott Gerber said that in his experience adding a fresh concept to a retail center often “creates more opportunity” for all businesses to do well. And placing the businesses under one roof with less overhead to worry about may help give “less tested” concepts a leg up to do well in their business.

“It increases the odds of survival because there’s less capital to put up. Some knock it out of the park. Some don’t. It encourages entrepreneurship,” he said, adding how some businesses may want to open an autonomous location afterward.

Nearby to the planned Local Kitchens spot at 711 E. Blithedale Ave., Rocco’s pizza owner Luciano Faria anticipates picking up more business from the addition.

“I’m not against it — as long as they’re not putting in a pizza place in the plaza. That would be awkward. But I don’t think it will affect me much. There’s room for everybody,” Faria said, joking that even if one opens the benefit will go to “whoever makes the best pizza.”

Faria, who opened his pizza parlor in 1998, welcomes the competition because he’s seen the shopping center vacant before Whole Foods moved in about nine years ago.

“The shopping center was dead. Those were some tough years,” he said. “When Whole Foods came in, my business went up 30- to 40%.”

Faria said market shoppers often put in their order at his place, get their groceries then return for pickup.

“I would say my business is back to (pre-pandemic) normal. My big issue now is getting people to work,” he said.

Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, production, tech, energy, transportation, agriculture as well as banking and finance. For 27 years, Susan has worked for a variety of publications including the North County Times, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe News. Reach her at 530-545-8662 or susan.wood@busjrnl.com

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