Salted Before Shark Tank
Salted is a healthy food company originally founded in 2014 by Jeff Appelbaum. The business is an umbrella company with several restaurants operating underneath it. Salted, with four healthy restaurants under its brand, went on Shark Tank to find a business partner. Unfortunately, the Sharks weren’t interested, and Jeff had to continue on his own. After Shark Tank in 2023, Salted received Venture Capital funding from several funders and was able to successfully grow as a company. Annual revenue in 2023 exceeds $1 million per store.
Food delivery apps have taken the world by storm, and services like DoorDash and GrubHub have become extremely popular. However, options in these applications are often limited, and finding delicious healthy food is not easy. Salted provides a better alternative by offering healthy yet delicious options and delivering them right to your doorstep.
Jeff Appelbaum founded Salted in 2014 as an umbrella company containing several healthy restaurants. Each restaurant is unique and flavorful in its own style. Restaurants under Salted’s brand include Moonbowls, a Korean-Californian mixed cuisine with many unique options; Ginger Bowls, a plant-based Chinese-inspired option for vegetarians in love with Chinese cuisine; Califlower Pizza, a pizzeria serving gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, low carb and calory pizza with cauliflower-based pizza crust; and $5 Salad Company, a healthy salad restaurant with a variety of options and flavorful salad choices for only $5 per salad! With each salad sold, $5 Salad Company also sends food aid through a partnership with Action Against Hunger.
Salted’s restaurants are pick-up and delivery only as each of them operates in a ghost kitchen without a dining area. Salted’s bases of operations for its brands are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. The restaurants’ lack of a dining hall allows them to focus on their food and delivery rather than catering to dine-in customers. Salted’s model also allows the company to not spend so much on marketing as each restaurant is available through major food-delivery apps such as DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Jeff Appelbaum tried creating a meal-prep kit, but instead of a subscription-based delivery service, he sold the kits in Whole Foods stores. He incorporated the meal-prep kit into Salted’s portfolio. The meal kits didn’t do very well, but they are still sold in select stores such as Whole Foods and Gelson’s Markets.
Appelbaum wanted to expand Salted to include more locations and restaurants under its umbrella, so he decided to go on Shark Tank. He hoped that a Shark would help expand the company and give Salted the opportunity to open more locations in the future.
Salted on Shark Tank
Jeff Appelbaum appeared on season 11 of Shark Tank seeking $500,000 for 5% of his company, Salted. He pitched his company to the Sharks and presented them with a sample of each of his restaurants’ most popular dishes. The Sharks loved the food and appreciated the low calories. He explained to the Sharks how Salted worked and how focusing on deliveries only allowed for better margins.
Appelbaum stated that this was the third time he was launching Salted. The first time Salted launched was as an online meal prep platform to help customers cook on their own. Salted then rebranded as a meal prep kit sold in grocery stores across the United States; Appelbaum claimed that selling meal prep kits helped him study the market as he was launching the third version of Salted. The third version of Salted was the one Appelbaum pitched to the Sharks; a healthy restaurant group that focuses solely on deliveries.
Kevin O’Leary referenced an earlier company of his, Plated. Plated provided meal prep subscriptions to customers in the United States. Kevin boasted that Plated had the highest returns in Shark Tank history.
Appelbaum cited the company’s sales: At the month of filming, Salted had made $250,000 in sales with an increase of 20% monthly. For the year, Salted had made $1.1 million in sales. The company had a $3 million run rate, which impressed the Sharks. Applebaum listed Salted’s locations and stated that he wanted to expand more. He claimed that, unfortunately, the company had lost $750,000 overall during the year of filming.
Appelbaum claimed that the company spent no money on customer acquisition as Salted’s restaurants are in most major food delivery applications. Mark Cuban asked if Salted was using Cloud Kitchens (Shared kitchens that could be used by multiple “restaurants”). Appelbaum stated that Salted plans on using Cloud Kitchens in the future. He also mentioned that Salted had raised $5 million in investment; however, some investors still haven’t earned any money back.
Upon hearing this, Barbara Corcoran was out.
Rohan Oza didn’t feel comfortable about Appelbaum’s character, so he was out.
Kevin O’Leary loved the idea, but he believed it would be too difficult for Salted to build a brand and stand out over the competitors in the market; he also thought the valuation was too high, so he was out.
Mark Cuban thought cloud kitchens were becoming more popular and rising through the delivery service’s SEO would be a challenge. He didn’t fully agree with Applebaum’s business strategy, so he was out.
Lori Greiner, the last Shark still in the tank, loved the product. She fully supported the idea and believed herself to be the perfect customer for the business. However, Lori had been trying to ask Applebaum questions during the presentation, and he didn’t respond. She claimed he also completely avoided eye contact with her, so she was out.
Applebaum left the Shark Tank without securing a deal, but he believed his business would continue operating and growing without a Shark’s help.
Salted Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Despite not landing a deal with the Sharks, Jeff Applebaum successfully expanded Salted. Salted added two more restaurants to its collection as well as more locations. The two new restaurants Salted added were Thrive Kitchen, a post-workout low-calorie keto-friendly restaurant with various healthy dishes for those on a diet, and Lulubowls, a healthy Hawaiian restaurant that serves plant-based low-calorie gluten-free bowls of classical Hawaiian cuisine. Salted grew to operate in Columbus, Houston, Atlanta, Tempe, Philadelphia, and a few more locations.
Salted saw an increase in sales due to the Covid-19 Pandemic as customers in quarantine began to order food more often. As a result, Salted was able to continue operations smoothly as the world went into lockdown. However, that didn’t stop the company from growing even further.
In 2021, Salted raised funds through two funding rounds. The first Venture Capital funding round raised $4 million from major investors such as Craft Ventures, Wonder Ventures, Valor Equity Partners, Kamine Development Corporation, and more. The second funding round raised a total of $16 million.
Salted continues to grow today in 2023, with new locations constantly opening up; the company plans to open over 50 locations across the United States. Salted is still adding new restaurants under its brand and growing exponentially. Annual revenue for Salted in 2023 is estimated to be roughly $1.5 million per store. Salted will continue growing as the company expands its roster and adds new locations. For more updates and information about Salted, visit the company’s website here.