Moe's Southwest Grill is coming to Pearlridge Center
A MAINLAND restaurant group is setting its first foot in Hawaii with a locally franchised Moe's Southwest Grill, set to open Oct. 26.
"That is our projected date," said franchisee Travis Wailehua. In the restaurant-opening scheme of things, that means it will be opening day, if all goes according to schedule. If not, the opening will have to be pushed back.
A 2,047-square-foot space that will seat 48 diners is being built by Wailehua and operating partner Joseph Patrick Rinne in part of the old JC Penney's space at Pearlridge Center.
The fast-casual restaurant serves made-to-order tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, salads and the nearly one-pound burritos for which it gained fame. Moe's was founded in 2000; there are now 800 franchise units signed for 38 states, including Hawaii, where the store will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
A similar and competing restaurant franchise, Taco Del Mar, announced earlier this year that it would build franchised locations in Kunia, Kapolei and Waipio on Oahu.
The Moe's partners plan "to take it one location at a time," Wailehua said.
Despite low unemployment in the state, the duo reports good response to help-wanted advertising in its efforts to hire 30 employees. One thing applicants mustn't be is shy, since they will be required to greet incoming customers loudly, sort of like sushi-chefs do in Japanese restaurants -- only in English. They must shout, 'Welcome to Moe's' "at the top of their lungs," Wailehua chuckled.
Wailehua is a Kamehameha grad and a Subway franchisee with stores in Nanakuli and Kalihi. Rinne is a former Subway franchisee who became familiar with Atlanta-based Moe's because he is from the ATL, as it is called in some circles.
Wailehua wanted to expand his portfolio. He and Rinne got to talking and decided upon the Moe's concept, one of seven expanding restaurant chains owned by Raving Brands Holding Inc.
Raving Brands' other concepts include Mama Fu's Asian House, Monkey Joe's Parties and Play, similar to the old Discovery Zone with inflated play structures and party rooms; PJ's Coffee and PJ's Coffee & Wine Bar; Flying Biscuit Cafe; Planet Smoothie and Planet Smoothie Cafe; Boneheads Grilled Fish & Piri Piri Chicken; Doc Green's Gourmet Salads; and Shane's Rib Shack.
"They do want to bring other concepts here," Wailehua said. Now that he and Rinne have set up a supply chain to get company products here, "they want to use us to branch out," he said.
Raving Brands will stage what the company calls a tour date, starting at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 9 at the Hawaii Prince Hotel. Company sales and real estate teams will make presentations about the food and beverage concepts and seek potential franchisees.
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