Waitr, an on-demand food delivery startup focused on the Southeastern market, has been acquired in one of the biggest technology deals to come out of Louisiana. Landcadia Holdings will purchase Waitr for $308 million and bring the formerly-private company public to trade on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.
Waitr was founded in 2013 and is based in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Though the food delivery market is a crowded one, by focusing on smaller, less-saturated cities in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and across the Southeast, the company grew quickly, raising about $25 million prior to the merger to help fuel expansion. Today they are in over 200 cities and count more than 5,000 restaurant partners, each of whom pays the startup to have a presence on the app.
“Our focus on restaurant partners and our commitment to a unique customer experience in the online ordering and food delivery sector will continue to differentiate us from the competition as we grow,” says Waitr’s founder and CEO Chris Meaux. Meaux will continue in his role, as will the rest of the Waitr team, while Landcadia’s CEO Tilman Fertitta will serve as a director of the combined company.
Texas billionaire businessman Fertitta also owns casino operator Golden Nugget, steakhouse chain Landry’s and the Houston Rockets basketball team. Now, Waitr will be able to market in 600 Landry’s restaurants and to millions of restaurant and casino customers across the country.
“This transaction with Waitr provides an incredible opportunity for the combined company to be the next leader in the fast growing online food delivery market,” said Fertitta in a statement. “Our experience with Waitr as a partner combines best in class on-demand food delivery for diners and a true partnership for restaurants.”
Landcadia will pay a minimum of $50 million in cash at the closing of the transaction, which will help fund Waitr’s expansion to new markets. Meaux says they have plans to hire in data infrastructure, operations, engineering and sales.
They’re also hiring delivery drivers, whom they call Waitrs. The 6,500 Waitr drivers are W-2 employees, unlike most delivery services.
“We invest heavily in training and development so that they offer a level of unmatched service, and are truly invested in what they do day-to-day,” says Meaux.
According to Bloomberg, though Waitr is not yet profitable, net revenue is expected to be double from a year ago. In 2017 they saw about $120 million in revenue.
Meaux says they will maintain their Louisiana headquarters. “We’ve grown into the company we are today because of the incredible support, talent and resources we have locally,” he says.
“To that end, we’re also striving to help grow the economy and give back to the local business community in any way we can. That includes our Restaurant Incubator Lab in our Baton Rouge office, for example.”
Photos via Waitr