Fancy Brooklyn-based ice cream brand Van Leeuwen — known in New York City and Los Angeles for its high-quality, slightly chewy dairy and vegan ice creams — is about to get even bigger. The company announced today that it has secured $18.7 million in a new round of funding, led by San Francisco-based private equity firm NextWorld Evergreen, LP.
The money will be used to scale up operations on all fronts, from expanding Van Leeuwen’s nationwide wholesale presence, to opening more retail locations for its pastel-colored pints and introducing new products. The brand, which started as truck in Greenpoint, currently runs 21 retail shops across New York City and Los Angeles, and its ice cream flavors run the gamut from traditional crowd-pleasers like strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla bean, to acclaimed versions of vegan ice creams made with cashew milk and, most recently, several oat milk varieties.
Co-founder and CEO Ben Van Leeuwen tells Eater that the company also plans to expand its 40-person production facility, located in Greenpoint, to be able to double the plant’s manufacturing capacity. The research and development team at the production facility will also double in size. “There will be more special flavors coming out with more frequency and intensity,” Van Leeuwen says.
The news marks the second time that Van Leeuwen has raised a round of equity investment to expand the company. In 2018, the popular ice cream brand took an undisclosed amount of money in a round led by Strand Equity, also to grow its wholesale and retail presence across the country. At the time, Van Leeuwen’s executive team used the funding to fuel an ambitious expansion plan in New York City, adding locations on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Prospect Heights, and Hudson Yards, among other neighborhoods. According to the shop’s website, another location will be opening soon inside the New Jersey mega-mall American Dream. Van Leeuwen sees the potential to support as many as 30 ice cream shops in the New York City area; currently, the company runs 17 locations.
Update, 11:23 a.m.: This story has been updated with comments from Van Leeuwen’s co-founder and CEO Ben Van Leeuwen.