When Portillo's Hot Dogs launched self-delivery last summer, it began working with a delivery management company called Cartwheel to provide the technology behind the service.
Portillo's has had such a positive experience with Cartwheel that it invested in the company as part of a $1 million seed round announced Thursday.
"With more than 60 Portillo’s locations nationwide and the highest average unit sales volumes in the fast-casual industry, we have a lot of deliveries to manage," said Portillo's CEO Michael Osanloo. "Cartwheel enables us to use our team members to deliver our highest-value orders, cross-training our team members so that they can become drivers for our own fleet."
The round was led by TenOneTen Ventures with participation from Act One Ventures and other, unnamed restaurateurs. The company said it will use the funds for product development and integrations and to hire more staff.
Los Angeles-based Cartwheel provides delivery tools such as driver apps, dispatch software and a text-message interface for restaurants and retailers with their own delivery fleets. It was founded in 2012 as a delivery restaurant called Gourmet Runner, but later shifted its focus to providing delivery technology to other businesses.
Cartwheel has also worked with P.F. Chang’s, Charleys Philly Steaks, Taco del Mar and others, and is a partner of online ordering company Olo.
“This investment will allow Cartwheel to further expand our reach, offering seamless delivery solutions to businesses that are reimagining what their delivery offerings look like in a post-pandemic world," said Alex Vasilkin, the company's co-founder and CEO.
Chicago-based Portillo's launched its own delivery in July as off-premise sales took off during the pandemic. It relies on Cartwheel to route incoming delivery orders to either a Portillo's driver or a third party based on dollar amount and proximity to the restaurant.
“Delivery is such a growing part of the restaurant industry,” said Dino Northway, the chain's senior manager of off-premise dining, last summer. “Self-delivery allows us to be part of the entire experience from start to finish.”
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