One of the few sectors of the economy that got a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic was at-home food delivery, which millions of Americans turned to amid lockdowns and restricted shopping hours. Among the companies that launched in the wake of the pandemic was Wonder, a New York-based mobile restaurant company with designs on taking at-home food delivery to a whole new level.
Since starting operations in 2021, Wonder has been on a financial fast track that includes a recent $350 million funding round that pushed its overall value to about $3.5 billion. It helps that the startup is led by Marc Lore, the Jet.com founder and former Walmart e-commerce executive who was one of Wonder’s early investors.
Wonder sets itself apart from other at-home food delivery services by operating out of food trucks – which it calls “mobile restaurants” – where meals are cooked, finished and plated just steps away from the customer’s door, then served as soon as they are ready.
The company states on its website, “Your fries are crispy, your steak is juicy and your pizza is hot: just the way they should be.”
Wonder currently has 19 mobile restaurants and operates in New Jersey, serving 22 communities and more than 130,000 households. The company collaborates with several renowned chefs – including Bobby Flay, Nancy Silverton, and Michael Symon – to create exclusive menus.
Wonder’s website features 20 restaurant partners across the country that specialize in various cuisines. The list includes Barrio Café in Phoenix (regional Mexican cuisine), Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, Maydan in Washington, D.C. (Middle Eastern), Chai Pani in Asheville, N.C. (South Asian), Fred’s Meat & Bread in Atlanta (sandwiches and burgers), Frankies Spuntino in New York (homestyle Italian), and Tejas Barbecue in Tumball, Texas.
The company’s latest funding round, announced on June 17, was led by Bain Capital Ventures and included participation from Accel, Alpine Group, Amex Ventures, Forerunner, General Catalyst, GV, NEA, and YieldStreet. It was reported that the round brought Wonder’s total amount raised in debt and equity to $900 million.
The new funding will be used to help Wonder expand within the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, Lore said in a blog post. The company also plans to launch 11 more mobile restaurants, bringing the total to 30.
“Our innovative techniques, technology, world-class culinary partnerships, and talent opens up so much potential for exciting, new possibilities,” Lore said. “Wonder has a real opportunity to not only completely change how people eat, but also to create a better future with access to the world’s best food in a convenient, affordable and sustainable way.”
Wonder’s sustainability program is divided into five basic areas: food sourcing, food waste, healthy buildings, emissions-neutral vehicles, and packaging.
In terms of sourcing, the company uses seasonal, locally sourced, and organic ingredients whenever possible. It rewards lower-impact and humane agricultural practices by purchasing food grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or regenerative practices.
Wonder reduces waste by donating usable excess food to the needy, with an eye on zero food waste going to landfills. The company also uses innovative storage technology designed to extend the shelf life of food.
Its healthy building initiative includes securing LEED certification for its Central Kitchen and increasing its use of renewable energy sources. For emissions-neutral vehicles, it aims to move to a fleet of all-electric vehicles charged via 100% renewable energy.
The company uses battery-powered electric cooking in its mobile restaurants and is developing cooking technology to minimize energy use while maximizing cooking time efficiency. In terms of packaging, Wonder is increasing its use of recyclable and compostable packaging and developing reusable closed-loop dinnerware.