Carl Grimstad, manager of family investment group, named new Waitr CEO

William Taylor Potter
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
A Waitr delivery driver picks up an order at local restaurant in Lafayette  Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

A week after Waitr CEO Adam Price announced his resignation after only a few months on the job, the company named Carl Grimstad to lead the struggling operation.

Grimstad served as the chief manager of C. Grimstad Associates, LLC, a family private investment entity formed in 2006. He is also the managing partner of GS Capital, LLC, a family private investment company started in 1995.

“We are excited to welcome Carl to the Waitr organization," said Waitr founder and former CEO Chris Meaux in a news release announcing the hiring. "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.” 

Price, who resigned his job and position on the company's board Dec. 27, had previously worked as the company's chief operating officer before Meaux announced his retirement in August. Meaux is the chairman of the company's board.

Grimstad has 'confidence' in Waitr's future

Grimstad will receive a base salary of $83,333 each month, according to a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. If Grimstad stays on for two years or is fired for any reason other than misconduct, he will receive a $3 million bonus.

MORE:Year in review: Waitr has tough 2019, on the clock in 2020

In 1999, Grimstad co-founded iPayment Inc., a credit and debit card processing company, and he served as the president of the company until 2011. In 2011, he became the iPayment CEO and chairman until 2016.

“I look forward to working with the many talented team members at Waitr as we continue to reshape the Company,” Grimstad said. “Over the past few weeks I, along with the company’s board, advisers and key stakeholders, have been evaluating every aspect of Waitr.

"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.”

A turbulent year

WAITR CEO Chris Meaux at the New York Stock Exchange.

Waitr had a turbulent 2019. The year was marked by leadership turnover and layoffs. Two board members, the board president, the chief financial officer, and the company's founder and original CEO have all resigned in the last half of 2019. 

MORE:Waitr announces layoffs, will close 'low-performing' markets

In June, the company began a round of layoffs because of synergies after the Byte Squad acquisition. Days before the layoffs were announced, Chris Meaux, the company's founder and original CEO, was named the region's Entrepreneur of the Year.

In July, several Lafayette and South Louisiana restaurants boycotted Waitr and expressed outrage over several changes the company made to its contracts with participating restaurants.

Meaux announced his departure in August, though he said he would serve on the company's board. Meaux's resignation coincided with the company's second quarter earnings report, which showed Waitr missed projections. 

Waitr's stock drops

Waitr reported a second-quarter loss of $24.9 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier. In that report, Waitr said it was looking into ways to increase value for shareholders, including a potential sale or merger, but ultimately opted not to pursue those paths.

The report came out Aug. 8, and the share price closed at $3.76. The next day, it fell by 50% and closed at $1.89.

Since that report, Waitr's stock price continued to drift downward. In September, Waitr President Joseph Stough announced his resignation, and board members Sue Collyns and Scott Fletcher and CFO Jeff Yurecko followed in October.

MORE:Louisiana-based Waitr at risk of being bumped from Nasdaq exchange

In the third quarter — the first with new CEO Adam Price at the helm — Waitr lost $220.1 million, or $2.89 per share, after only losing $6.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. The result prompted the company to cease operations in 38 "clearly unprofitable" markets. None of the closed markets were in Louisiana.

After its stock price had been below $1 for 30 consecutive days, the company was alerted it was out of compliance with Nasdaq's rules. A company has to stay at or above $1 to stay listed on the exchange.

Waitr has to record 10 consecutive days at or above $1 before June 1, 2020, or it will be at risk of being delisted. The company's share price has not hit $1 since Oct. 17.

Its stock price closed at $0.37 on Friday.