Milk Bar – which has developed a cult-like following for its quirky confections – will use the investment from the California-based consumer products incubator to push its presence into the retail channel.
It will also use the cash to expand its physical footprint – with plans to open its 17th store, in Manhattan, New York, by the end of 2019 – and push deeper into e-commerce.
“Our community is so much bigger than just where we have stores,” said Tosi, who has appeared as a judge on US MasterChef and has her own episode on Netflix’s Chef’s Table.
“It’s about reaching more people in more meaningful ways.”
Never sacrifice quality for scale
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Sonoma Brand’s founder and managing partner Jon Sebastiani confirmed it was one of the largest investments the company has ever made.
He describes Milk Bar’s potential as ‘the next Oreo.’
“There’s a magical love affair and affinity that consumers have with Milk Bar,” he said.
Sebastiani – the creator of Krave Jerky, which was scooped up by Hershey in 2015 – is joining the board and will take a hands-on approach to help build the team to take Milk Bar to retail. However, he emphasized the company will continue to embrace its quirky and indulgent ethos, and will “never sacrifice quality for scale.”
Milk Bar was founded in 2008 by pastry chef and James Beard award winner Christina Tosi as an offshoot of famed restaurant group Momofuku. Her idiosyncratic treats like the Compost Cookie – stuffed with butterscotch, chocolate, pretzel bits and potato chips – catapulted her into celebrity chef status.
She bootstrapped the Brooklyn-based business for nine years before securing $10m in Series A capital from RSE Ventures in November 2017.
Today, Milk Bar – which is partially owned but run independently from Momofuku – has 16 outlets around the US, including nine in New York.