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Tilman Fertitta makes a big bet on delivery

Landcadia Holdings, cofounded by the Landry’s owner, has completed its purchase of delivery company Waitr.
Waitr

The “Billion Dollar Buyer” has struck again.

Landcadia Holdings, a publicly traded shell company created by Landry’s owner—and host of reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer”—Tilman Fertitta, has completed its acquisition of delivery and online ordering company Waitr.

Landcadia is paying $308 million for Waitr, including $50 million in cash and the rest in company stock.

The deal is a “reverse merger,” and Landcadia will change its name to Waitr Holdings and will be publicly traded on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

In a statement, Fertitta called Waitr “the best-in-class, on-demand food ordering and delivery partner” and said that the company is “positioned well to take advantage of the massive underpenetrated market for online delivery, particularly in secondary markets.”

Fertitta formed Landcadia in 2016. It is a “special-purpose acquisition company,” or a “blank check” company that uses funds from public stock investors to acquire a company within certain industries to take it public. In essence, the investors make bets on Fertitta’s abilities as an acquirer.

The shell company takes on the name of the acquisition and thus takes it public.

In this case, investors have made a bet on one of the most active acquirers in the restaurant business. Landry’s concepts include Morton’s The Steakhouse, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Oceanaire, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Claim Jumper and several others—many of which Fertitta acquired.

With the Waitr acquisition, Fertitta is getting on board the delivery bandwagon.

Waitr, based in Lake Charles, La., was founded in 2013 and connects local and independent restaurants with online ordering and delivery services. It concentrates in areas not typically served by one of the larger players.

The company has more than 7,700 restaurant partners in 235 cities in the Southeast. Last week, the company said that its revenue rose 230% and its gross food sales rose 135% in the third quarter to $77.7 million.

Waitr founder and CEO Chris Meaux will become the company’s chairman, and the rest of its executive team will remain in their roles. Fertitta will serve as a director.

“We believe this is a great opportunity,” Meaux said in a statement. “Our combined expertise, experience and resources, and being a publicly traded company, will further enable us to accelerate our growth in the markets we currently serve and expand into new markets and take advantage of potential opportunistic acquisitions.”

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