Charcoal Eats, an Indian quick service restaurant (QSR) chain specialising in biryani, has secured $5.4m (Rs450m) in funding from a group of investors, The Economic Times has reported.

The investment round was led by Girish Patel, founder of Paras Pharma, and valued the restaurant company between $24m and $30m.

 The funding will facilitate Charcoal Eats’ expansion into new markets, including the US, and enhance its technological capabilities.

The nine-year-old brand currently operates 40 outlets, predominantly as cloud kitchens across Mumbai, Pune and Delhi-NCR [National Capital Region]. It competes in the lucrative biryani market, estimated to be worth $787m. Despite biryani’s popularity on platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato, the market remains largely unorganised.

Charcoal Eats co-founder Krishnakant Thakur stated, “The capital will be used for distribution expansion, brand building, technology and international expansions. The funds will help widen our reach to over 100 multi-format stores in the current fiscal, as well as expand globally, especially in the US.” The company has not disclosed the exact size of the deal.

Founded in 2015 by former finance executives Krishnakant Thakur and Anurag Mehrotra, Charcoal Eats offers two brands: Charcoal Eats for biryani and B Burger in the gourmet burger category. Both founders have extensive backgrounds in the financial sector.

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Commenting on the changing consumer landscape, Tavaga founder and an early investor in Charcoal Eats Nitin Mathur stated: “Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly and putting pressure on companies to be more agile, as seen in the recent shift to quick commerce. Challenger brands, like Charcoal Eats, are rightly placed on the cusp of these mega consumer trends.” Mathur emphasised the potential for innovative brands to adapt swiftly and carve out new market niches.

Charcoal Eats’ competitors have also secured significant investments in recent times. Biryani By Kilo raised $35m in its series B funding round from Alpha Wave Ventures, and Rebel Foods, owner of Behrouz Biryani, garnered $13.2m in debt financing from Alteria and InnoVen Capital.

Praising the resilience of Charcoal Eats’ founders, Girish Patel said: “This milestone is a testament to the unwavering grit and resilience of founding entrepreneurs, who have navigated the challenges of the pandemic with remarkable tenacity and vision. Their leadership continues to drive the commitment towards operational excellence and customer delight in the quick service restaurant (QSR) landscape.”

Charcoal Eats competes in the biryani market, which is estimated to be worth $787m. Credit: highviews/Shutterstock.