The pixels were still drying on our Q&A with Waitr’s new CEO Adam Price when news hit that Price resigned from the captain’s chair and board of directors and is being replaced by Carl Grimstad. He’s chief manager of C. Grimstad Associates, a family- office investment firm. For Louisiana-based Waitr, this is only the latest high-profile departure after an exceptionally tumultuous year for the fifth-largest U.S. restaurant delivery service.
Waitr reported losing $220.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 on revenues of $49.2 million. Aside from being the company’s third CEO in two years, Grimstad is also the co-founder and former president of iPayment, a credit and debit card payment processing service for small- and medium-sized merchants.
“Over the past few weeks I, along with the company’s board, advisors and key stakeholders, have been evaluating every aspect of Waitr,” he said in a release. “This process has given me confidence in the future of Waitr. I see significant potential to build upon the solid foundation of the company’s existing relationships with diners and restaurant partners in terms of Waitr’s product offering and customer service, and I look forward to discussing these initiatives in future interactions with the financial community.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Food On Demand just before Christmas, Price said Waitr has the time and finances to make it out the other side of its current challenges. He added that the company has a “clear trajectory” to profitability, and said being the underdog in the space has forced it to be sustainable over the long-term in the face of much larger competitors like DoorDash and Grubhub.
“Money on our balance sheet is correlated with time to figure out problems, and Waitr has very little time to figure out its problems,” Price said.
Price had been Waitr’s chief operating officer before joining the company as chief logistics officer in February of 2019. Price has a background that includes work in the engineering services field, as well as the earlier days of restaurant delivery in New York City.
Amid a stream of executive departures, Waitr has reportedly laid off hundreds of workers as the company’s share price has fallen over the last 12 months, which triggered a delisting warning from the Nasdaq stock exchange. So far investors have welcomed the latest news, with WTRH shares rising from 30 cents to nearly 45 cents at press time.
As somebody who hears a fair share of industry rumors and speculation, a handful of well-placed sources have privately questioned Waitr’s chances of surviving the current turmoil. The company wrote down what it paid for Minneapolis-based Bite Squad, which it acquired in early 2019, according to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In addition, its wings are clipped due to limited cash flow as larger, better capitalized third-party delivery firms rapidly diversify into the ghost and virtual kitchens.
“We are excited to welcome Carl to the Waitr organization,” said Chris Meaux, the company’s CEO before Price and chairman of the board. “We believe that the combination of his extensive operational, executive and leadership experience, including as a successful president of a public company, as well as his career focus of providing small- and medium-sized merchants payment and technology solutions, will create substantial shareholder value.”