New York-based Owen’s Craft Mixers announced today it has closed a $3 million Series A fundraising round led by Levy Family Partners.
The brand markets a variety of premium cocktail mixers in retail stores, bars, restaurants and venues. Owen’s products are sold in 250 ml and 750 ml glass bottles at retailers including Walmart, Safeway and Ralphs, among others. The company is currently sold in over 5,500 stores nationwide.
“We recognized a spirit in Owen’s that resembles our core mission to create unforgettable food and beverage experiences in memorable places,” said Larry Levy, founder of Levy Family Partners, in a press release. “I love the Owens’ products and think the company will become an important brand.”
Levy is not joining the company’s board of directors. He joins a group of investors that includes RJ and Jerrod Melman, executive partners at restaurant operator Lettuce Entertain You; Clarence Otis, Jr., former CEO of Darden Restaurants; Matt Menna and Andy Gloor of Chicago real estate development group Sterling Bay; and others.
Owen’s co-founder Josh Miller said the prospect of working with a family owned and operated fund was an important factor in securing the deal with Levy Family Partners; Miller himself launched the brand with his brother-in-law, Tyler Holland, and named it after his grandfather. He also noted the opportunity to work closely with and learn from Levy, the co-founder of Chicago-based hospitality group Levy Restaurants, which was acquired by Compass Group in 2006.
“What’s really great is that [the investment] brings validation to the brand about the success we’ve had in the eyes of the most successful operator,” Miller said. “With what [Larry] Levy has built in terms of the business, it’s special to have him look at a product like Owen’s and have it be something in which he can recognize the success and the trajectory as well.”
Bringing Levy’s experience into the fold also aligns with Owens’ ambition to grow within stadiums and arenas. Levy Restaurants operates over 200 sports and entertainment venues worldwide, while Miller said Owen’s is currently sold in over 25 professional sports parks, including Citi Field in New York and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The brand works closely with vendors in those venues, he said, to drive sales and efficiencies that will build overall awareness.
“If [the venue] has a particular brand of tequila they are trying to get more traction on, we can do a paloma or a margarita, or we could do a mojito for rum,” he said. “Instead of us walking in with our own agenda, we ask what the goals are for the beverage program? What spirit do you want to highlight this season? Let us come up with it.”
Miller said the funds will go towards building out the brand’s sales team with regional managers, as it seeks to balance expansion at retail with a bigger presence at “high profile” on-premise locations. While noting that the company is “focused on the product lines and sizes” that it currently offers, he said flavor innovations are due to arrive next year.