- Lunchbox, an online ordering system, has agreed to acquire NovaDine, an enterprise digital ordering provider for multi-unit restaurant chains, according to a press release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The acquisition provides Lunchbox with an enterprise suite to build on its digital ordering technology and is expected to enable restaurant operators to manage digital guest experiences from a single operating system,
- This marks Lunchbox’s second acquisition in less than a year. In August, the company acquired Spread, an online marketplace that connects restaurants with diners wanting delivery and takeout services. In February, Lunchbox’s business model attracted a $50 million investment to help further its growth.
Lunchbox’s investor and operator attraction stems from its position as a way around third-party aggregator commission fees. The timing for this acquisition should strengthen Lunchbox, as digital sales remain high despite a return to dine-in business. From February 2020 to February 2022, digital orders grew by 117%, according to the NPD Group.
NovaDine offers digital ordering solutions for multi-unit restaurant chains, including Firehouse Subs, Steak & Shake and Torchy’s Tacos. Firehouse and Torchy’s, are growing dramatically. Torchy’s has tripled in size throughout the past five years. Firehouse Subs was acquired by Restaurant Business International at the end of 2021 and is poised for growth under Burger King’s parent company.
Not only will the acquisition provide Lunchbox with significantly more scale, NovaDine, which has been around since 2007, also adds deep experience and expertise in the space.
“Traditionally, restaurants have faced the enormous hurdle of having to choose between multiple different technology tools to run their businesses, understand their digital clients and scale operations. NovaDine has built an entire platform that enables the operator to manage all digital orders from a single operating system,” Lunchbox CEO Nabeel Alamgir said in a statement.
Alamgir said NovaDine will have a “huge hand” in taking Lunchbox to the next phase of growth into enterprise markets. Lunchbox’s release framed the acquisition as the “first of many steps in the company’s plans to invest in new technologies.”
Those technologies will include a robust marketing component, George Istfan, president at NovaDine, noted in the release.
For now, the partnership should enable operators to manage digital customers’ experience from start to finish through the ability to leverage Lunchbox and Novadine’s products, which consolidate third-party marketplace orders; POS integration; nutritional calculators; group orders; house accounts that can integrate with loyalty providers; catering management; delivery management to customize zones and fees; first-party delivery fleets; and enterprise reporting.
The partnership will also allow operators to manage or restrict order channels during an allotted timeframe, according to the release, if there is not enough staffing to cover delivery orders during peak hours. Order fulfillment through a variety of channels has been a challenge for understaffed restaurants and can create a reputational risk if those channels aren’t restricted.