“People who love our bar could be part of something they helped build.” That’s the idea behind the investment initiative Gin & Luck Hospitality Group, the company behind pioneering cocktail bar Death & Co, has in the works.
In 2006, Death & Co opened its formidable, steam punk doorway on East 6th Street in New York, and seats at this little bar quickly became some of the city’s most coveted spots from which to sip inventive cocktails. Founded by David Kaplan and Ravi deRossi, it was where “startenders” like Phil Ward, Joaquín Simó, Jillian Vose, Jim Kearns and Eryn Reece honed their talents and created modern classic recipes—Naked and Famous, Oaxaca Old Fashioned, The Conference—that now appear on drink menus all over the world. Many of the mixologists who worked at Death & Co have moved on to manage and/or partner in other high profile cocktail bars.
Death & Co also launched the career of Alex Day, the bartender who would later become co-founder of the hospitality consulting firm Proprietors, LLC, partnering with Kaplan and Devon Tarby, formerly of Varnish bar in Los Angeles.
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No flash of the citrus oil, with dozens of people queued down East 6th St. every night from open to close, the bar opened locations in Denver’s chic RiNo neighborhood at the Ramble Hotel in 2018 and to Downtown Los Angeles in 2019.
A bar means real business
In 2018, as a way to fund brand expansion, Death & Co became the first hospitality brand to partner with SeedInvest on an equity crowdfunding initiative—an impressive feat considering SeedInvest only accepts approximately 1% of companies who apply. SeedInvest says Death & Co is now recognized as the most successful hospitality raise in the company’s history, and the second most successful Reg CF raise ever on the platform.
A new SeedInvest raise is in the works for 2021. Death & Co will be launching a Reg A+ raise, akin to a mini-IPO, which is open to both accredited and non-accredited investors, and will all be part of the launch of Gin & Luck Hospitality Group, which will become an umbrella company for Death & Co, and a number of other subsidiaries.
It would seem that a plan such as this would sprout (pun intended) from the need for a Covid-related “pivoted” business model, but Kaplan says the initiative was in place with specific goals in mind before the pandemic. They hope to raise somewhere between $4-6 million in order to rise above mere business survival—but to diversify and thrive—as well as support their employees with the sort of substantial benefits expected from non-hospitality companies, such as health insurance, wellness programs and retirement packages.
Some of the investment ambitions include:
- Creating new brick and mortar location opportunities
- Expanding Proprietors, LLC with more training programs and property opening consultations to be considered the go-to “best in class” in this arena, with attention to diverse staffing in all markets.
- Offering more consumer products through Death & Co’s digital marketplace, including more book titles to join Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails (2014); Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions (2018); and the forthcoming Death & Co, Welcome Home
- A Gin & Luck service industry educational platform. (“We love to teach,” says Tarby.)
- The creation of the Midnight Auteur hotel group, which seeks to build properties with themes and services that will “resonate” with the culture of the chosen home cities.
In addition, Death & Co is soon launching its own line of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic RTD canned cocktails in partnership with Craft Spirits Cooperative—another pre-pandemic plan, but one that happens to be manifesting as the category continues to see rampant growth.
The idea is to offer top-notch, shelf-stable, delicious drinks from one of the most respected names in the cocktail landscape. On the RTD creation team is mixologist Tyson Buher, who says the products are also made with the intention of “reaching people who haven’t been to our bars [or don’t live near them], but want a taste of that experience” with a product they can pour out and fancifully garnish, if desired, or simply drink from the can as one would a soda or beer.
“Equity crowdfunding is all about enabling customers to own a piece of their favorite company and Death & Co happens to be my favorite bar in New York City,” said Ryan Feit, CEO & Co-Founder of SeedInvest. “We were impressed with the company doubling revenue in 2019 after their initial raise on SeedInvest and are excited to have them back.”
To learn more and even become part of the raise, please visit Gin & Luck Hospitality Group’s website.