Alex Canter’s great-grandfather started Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, which has been a pastrami-sandwich landmark since 1931.
Watching his father and grandfather evolve the restaurant as he grew up, Canter was keen to bring the family business to a new generation. And for Canter, that meant the integration of technologies designed to make restaurant operations more profitable.
First, he launched the tech company Ordermark in 2017, a service that helped restaurants manage the flood of third-party delivery orders coming in through various marketplaces.
Then came Nextbite, a company that creates turnkey virtual restaurant brands available for delivery only, which “partner restaurants” can operate out of their existing kitchens. A restaurant that is open for dinner only, for example, could offer breakfast and lunch concepts for delivery only out of the same real estate with the same workforce.
“It became the most meaningful thing for us to do for restaurants to actually thrive — not just simplify their operations and make it easier to manage, but taking it one step further to actually create turnkey brands that will add extra orders every day,” he said. “It was definitely a natural evolution of what we were already working on.”
Canter said his big idea is fundamentally to make restaurants more profitable and sustainable by “putting many restaurants within one restaurant.”
Nextbite brands range from a taco concept affiliated with comedian George Lopez to the gourmet sandwich concept ’Wichcraft founded by famed chef Tom Colicchio. There are close to 20 brands to choose from, each of which can be customized to a restaurant’s needs.
Nextbite handles the marketing and branding, Canter said. “We do everything but the cooking.”
The virtual brand landscape has grown crowded, however, and Nextbite has competition, not only from other delivery-only brand creators but also from restaurant chains that are launching and growing their own add-on brands.
But as restaurants crawl their way back from nearly two years of pandemic, Canter sees room for growth as operators learn how to generate more out of their four walls. In 2021, Ordermark was rebranded under the Nextbite banner, and the company has grown from about 80 employees a year ago to more than 300.
“We believe there are 800,000 restaurants in the U.S., and 90% have excess capacity to handle more volume right now,” said Canter.
- Meet the 2022 Power List
- Steph So works to humanize the digital experience at Shake Shack
- This mobile, automated pizza restaurant will bring freshly baked pizza right to the customer
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout