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Landry’s owner’s blank-check company to buy Waitr for $308M

Tilman Fertitta’s Landcadia to acquire online ordering and delivery platform

Landry’s owner Tilman Fertitta’s Landcadia Holdings Inc. has agreed to acquire online ordering and delivery platform Waitr Inc. for $308 million, the companies said late Wednesday.

Houston-based Landcadia Holdings, an acquisition shell that Fertitta took public in 2016 and raised $250 million, agreed to pay at least $50 million in cash, as well as stock, for Lake Charles, La.-based Waitr, which offers online ordering and delivery services to independent restaurants and chains in underserved markets.

Waitr, founded in 2013, has more than 5,000 restaurant partners in more than 200 cities in the Southeast.

The agreement calls for Waitr to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Landcadia. Landcadia will change its name to Waitr Holdings Inc. and become a publicly traded Nasdaq exchange company, a spokesperson said.

“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,” Fertitta said 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.”

Parent restaurant companies increasingly are investing in online ordering and delivery services. In February, Louisville, Ky.- based Yum! Brands Inc. bought $200 million in Grubhub Inc. stock to provide its KFC and Taco Bell brands with online ordering, pickup and delivery at U.S. restaurants.

Upon closing the Landcadia deal, Chris Meaux, Waitr founder and CEO, and the rest of the company’s executive team would continue in their roles, a Fertitta spokesperson said. Fertitta would serve as a director of the combined company and oversee growth and branding, and Meaux would be named chairman.

“We have seen firsthand the impact Waitr has had on our restaurants, the incremental sales growth it drives, and the positive feedback we receive from our customers,” Fertitta said. “Not only am I excited about the Landcadia-Waitr transaction, I am also pleased to have Chris and the entire Waitr team as a Landry’s delivery partner and look forward to growing successfully together.”

The companies said net cash proceeds from the deal transaction would be used to fund Waitr’s growth in current and new markets and allow Waitr to pursue acquisitions to grow its U.S. footprint.

Access to Landry’s portfolio of 600 restaurants and access to four million loyalty program members across the restaurants and casinos would benefit the company, Meaux said.

“Tilman’s domain expertise and his team’s deep experience and knowledge in the restaurant industry is the perfect complement to our focus on restaurant partners and our commitment to a unique customer experience in the online ordering and food delivery sector,” Meaux said.

Fertitta owns a large portfolio of hospitality companies, including the gaming giant Golden Nugget Inc., casual-dining behemoth Landry's Inc. and Fertitta Entertainment Inc. Fertitta bought the National Basketball Association Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in October 2017.

“The opportunity for partnership with the Houston Rockets and its more than nine million Facebook followers and also the ability to drive elevated traditional and social media exposure both nationally and in strategic markets creates an exciting opportunity to accelerate customer acquisition,” Meaux added.

The boards of both Landcadia and Waitr have unanimously approved the proposed transaction. Completion of the proposed transaction is subject to Landcadia stockholder approval and other customary closing conditions, the companies said. The deal is expected to be completed later this year.

Fertitta’s companies own and operate more than 40 hospitality brands, including five Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino locations and such restaurant concepts as Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s Restaurants and Rainforest Café.

Landry’s most recent restaurant acquisition was in August, when it won the bankruptcy court auction to buy Houston-based Ignite Restaurant Group, parent to the Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap for $50 million.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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