Virtual brand company Nextbite has added another restaurant industry veteran to its fold, tapping former Red Robin CEO Denny Marie Post as an advisor.
Post, who has spent 35 years in the industry, said she has been observing the booming delivery-only brand space for a while, and Nextbite stood out.
"There’s a plethora of brands today that are popping up," she said. "What doesn't necessarily make sense is the business model. And Nextbite's core mission of helping independents and chain restaurants get more value out of the assets that they have, with brands that really fit their operating model, just makes a lot of sense."
Nextbite now offers nearly 20 delivery-only brands that restaurants can bring into existing kitchens as additional revenue streams. And it will soon begin working directly with large chains to develop bespoke brands for their operations.
That is one area where Post will lend her expertise. Though she could not reveal specifics, she said the initiative is a big opportunity for Nextbite, and for restaurants.
"There are assets out there, particularly enterprise assets and some independents, that are underutilized, and this is a huge opportunity for growth," she said. "It’s not a temporary, 'Get me through the pandemic.' It’s the future of the business."
Virtual brands can also help older restaurants connect with a younger, digitally native audience without having to overhaul their existing concept, she said.
"Can these brands evolve to meet the needs of a generation that defines the restaurant experience as often happening in the home, or do we need new brands entirely?" she said. "I think [Nextbite] has a chance to bridge that."
Post has done plenty of trail-blazing of her own in her career, including developing well-known products like Starbucks' Pike Place Roast and KFC's Popcorn Chicken. At Red Robin, she established a unique co-branding partnership with Donatos Pizza that has become a big success.
Nextbite is part of online ordering provider Ordermark, which in October raised $120 million from investors including SoftBank. Nextbite has since hired a culinary director and a former branding expert from Chipotle, and has been rolling out new brands at a steady clip.
The company is led by Alex Canter, a fourth-generation restaurateur whose family runs Canter's Deli in Los Angeles.
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