Local Ruby Tuesday posts division’s highest sales
Hawaii's Ruby Tuesday franchisee boasts the highest individual restaurant sales in the company's international division, for its sales last year in Mililani.
RT Hawaii Restaurants Inc. partners Will Keliinoi and Ted Davenport received the award last month at an annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., where Ruby Tuesday is based.
And there may be more to come. Keliinoi said the company's Windward Mall location "is doing better than Mililani ... (so) I think Ruby Tuesday of Hawaii will have the corner on that award for another year."
A third partner, Rick Nakashima, had to skip the award meeting so that he could oversee construction of the Moanalua Shopping Center location, which is now slated to open Oct. 31.
While the opening is delayed from the original September date, Keliinoi said the partners believe "the Moanalua site will be the absolute busiest," given the area's population and scarcity of area restaurants. That could mean yet another award for highest unit sales, but TheBuzz doesn't want to bachi, or jinx anything.
Hiring for the new store has been going very slowly, because of low unemployment in the state.
"It's taking about twice as long to find the number of people we need," Keliinoi said.
"When we opened at Mililani, in three weeks we had 800 applications that came through, and here we are probably four or five weeks into it and we've got maybe half the people hired," about 60 of 125, he said. Hiring for the May opening of the 99-employee Windward location was also slow.
Given the hiring difficulties at Moanalua and the need to fill some positions with experienced staff, some 12 to 15 employees from other stores will transfer to the new location permanently.
RT Hawaii will have built four restaurants in 2 1/2 years "and that's incredibly fast," Keliinoi said. Once Moanalua opens, the business will have gone from "zero to $17 million in (projected) sales."
There are no plans to start building another restaurant right away.
"I think we're going to let the ground rest for awhile and spend the next year strengthening our team ... and our execution ability."
After that, Keliinoi and his partners, who own statewide rights to develop more Ruby Tuesday restaurants, can name five more possible locations on Oahu "without even thinking hard," as well as several opportunities on the neighbor islands. "The biggest thing we're struggling at is, it is hard to find team members."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org