No project is perhaps more emblematic of the morass Downtown has been in than the old federal courthouse. Yet, a project of this magnitude is exactly what we need to catalyze development.
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As a result of Waitr’s hard work and pluck, our community now has all the ingredients needed to power an explosion of growth in our digital economy.
The gist: The news broke this week that app-based food delivery service Waitr was acquired by a Texas billionaire in a $308 million deal that will take the company public. CEO Chris Meaux says the company intends to expand operations in Louisiana and will continue to call Lafayette and Lake Charles home.
Meaux tells The Current..."We're committed to Lake Charles and Lafayette; that's where the bulk of our employee base is from a corporate perspective. We're committed to Louisiana. This is gonna remain our home and that was an important factor in this deal." Waitr's management staff will remain the same, with Meaux continuing to serve as CEO. He also will be the newly public company's board chairman.
You can breathe now: In the immediate wake of the acquisition, it wasn’t particularly clear where Waitr would end up. It's now owned by Texas billionaire Tillman Fertitta, the CEO of seafood restaurant chain Landry's. Fertitta also owns the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles.
Waitr is a major success story for Acadiana and Lake Charles. Losing its growing payroll and employment would have been a huge blow for a down and out Lafayette economy. Waitr employs between 400 and 500 people in Acadiana, including drivers, and accounts for roughly $25 million in annual payroll in Louisiana, according to a rough estimate from Meaux.
What to watch for: The acquisition will accelerate Waitr’s growth rapidly. Before the deal, Waitr was projected to double its revenue next year to $250 million. Capital infusion of this scale will put Waitr in the driver’s seat nationally in the app-based food delivery space in secondary markets. Meaux says the company will add three or four new cities to its portfolio per month and begin buying up smaller competitors. The company will continue to emphasize small and mid-size cities in its growth and marketing strategy. Meaux refers to Waitr as a "small town company."
Locally, Meaux says the company is expanding beyond its offices at The Daily Advertiser building on Bertrand Drive. One possible landing spot is the Lemoine building Downtown. Meaux indicates the company is close to deciding on a site, but would not disclose where it would end up. Meaux says the company will continue to hire more software engineers, customer service reps and restaurant support staff going forward. Lafayette is Waitr's software engineering hub.
Much of our GDP has been lost to an industry that seems unlikely to ever fully recover. And none of our industries are on pace to have the kind of billion-dollar growth our economy needs to get back on track.
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Andrew Rodgers, a Chattanooga-based technologist, smiles as he speaks to an eager Acadiana audience, his hands moving like a Cajun grandmother. A keynote speaker at Lafayette’s inaugural Smart Community Summit, his energetic presentation to a room full of Lafayette notables is fueled by one driving force — belief in the powers of cooperation and technology. “Researchers and academia work in […]
If balancing the bare necessities of providing and maintaining city services is not difficult enough, we city dwellers demand that our local governments deliver civic innovation to compete with rival municipalities on a regional, national and global scale. Though as the burden of paying for essential capital improvement projects rests more and more with local governments, cities are being asked […]