SBE Hospitality Group and virtual brand platform C3’s founder and CEO Sam Nazarian has solely acquired Nextbite, just days after Nation’s Restaurant News reported that Nextbite’s order management arm, Ordermark, had been sold off to Indian software company UrbanPiper. The latest news was first reported by Food on Demand.
Leadership will pass from CEO Alex Canter — who founded Nextbite in 2020 after merging the then-flourishing virtual restaurant company with technology platform Ordermark — to Nazarian, and operations will be relocated to C3’s headquarters in Miami. A “suite” of former Nextbite executives will reportedly stay on board with the company under new ownership.
“We built the Nextbite business and our brand portfolio over several years to include many popular consumer favorites,” Canter said. “We’ve gotten to know Sam Nazarian and his team very well and, simply put, there’s no other organization in the virtual restaurant space that’s better qualified to take these brands to the next level in a big way.”
In an interview with Food on Demand, Sam Nazarian said that he was excited to continue the expansion of more than 410 small and medium-sized brands through their virtual brand partnerships with Nextbite, as well as the company’s partnerships with brick-and-mortar legacy brands like Nathan’s Famous and IHOP. Nazarian wants to make sure Nextbite keeps growing as a company and said there are 7-10 projects in the works.
He also said that the last half a year to a year “has really shaken out a lot of players” in the food technology world, as not everyone would make the “next cut,” but claimed in the interview that it was important to him that “Nextbite … stays around as an industry leader” and “continues to build on the momentum and goodwill they’ve built” over the last several years.
“Nextbite by sbe will be the leader of the digital only space - a global platform inspired to reimagine dining and push the boundaries of the culinary space,” Nazarian said in a statement. “Through the acquisition of Nextbite, we will further establish those brands that Nextbite has built and support them in their next exciting chapter while reinforcing the amazing pipeline we have created. We’re thrilled to have built a trusting relationship with Alex and his team and share a vision for the future of food-tech and all it’s promises.”
The consolidation of two out of the three largest virtual restaurant companies (with the third being Virtual Dining Concepts) suggests a larger trend in the restaurant technology space. Over the past few years, the food tech boom has created a constant stream of startup fundraising and M&A news, and even a unicorn IPO or two from smaller tech companies. But as the food tech space gets more crowded, it only makes sense that not every company will make it out on the other side. Although Nextbite still lives on under the SBE umbrella, this acquisition is indicative of a shift in the virtual restaurant space, which isn’t dead, but is certainly not as hot as it was during the peak of the pandemic, when delivery-only brands were a lifeline for the foodservice industry.
Contact Joanna at [email protected]