Momofuku’s CEO is guiding the restaurant’s CPG expansion with $17.5 million in funding

March 30, 2023, 1:19 PM UTC
A young woman wearing a black sweater smiles as she poses in front of a dark green background
Momofuku CEO Marguerite Zabar Mariscal.
Courtesy of Momofuku

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! CVS has completed a $8 billion deal with Signify Health, the Biden administration is bringing Women’s Business Centers to every state, and Momofuku’s CEO guides the restaurant’s expansion into CPG. Have a great Thursday.

– Ready to order. Momofuku, the popular restaurant group, raised $17.5 million in funding in a round led by Siddhi Capital earlier this month for its consumer packaged goods spinoff, Momofuku Goods. Founded by chef David Chang, Momofuku has another name at the helm of this expansion: CEO Marguerite Zabar Mariscal.

Mariscal joined Momofuku as an intern in 2011 and ascended the ranks over the past decade, becoming CEO at 30 years old in 2019. She saw opportunity for the Momofuku brand beyond its restaurants; 90% of Momofuku and Chang’s combined Instagram followers lived in cities where the company doesn’t operate restaurants, she noticed.

When those restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles closed during the pandemic, she started to get serious about those ideas—earlier in her tenure than she might have otherwise. “As a young CEO…having the courage and conviction to do it that soon into my job, it might have taken me a couple years [without the pandemic],” she says. “But it expedited a lot of decisions that otherwise would have been belabored.”

Momofuku introduced home-cooking products including noodle kits and chili crisp. Mariscal brought on a new staff of 16 to run the CPG side of the business, the company’s first time hiring a corporate workforce. That in turn affected how Momofuku thinks about its restaurant staff and their pay and benefits. “It makes you question why things are the way they are on the restaurant side,” she says. The company’s ultimate, but lofty, goal is to provide the “same benefits as working at Google” to restaurant staff.

Mariscal says she never particularly wanted to be a CEO or even to enter the food industry. She comes from the family that founded Zabar’s, New York’s famous Upper West Side food store. “My grandfather would always complain about the slim margins and working on holidays,” she remembers. Her parents followed different paths as an architect and lawyer, but neither went far; her father was the architect for Zabar’s and her mother later wrote a book about the store.

Coming from an 89-year-old family business influences how Mariscal runs Momofuku in partnership with Chang. She asks: “How are we building something that can last?”

Emma Hinchliffe

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