Restaurant company wants real estate to rave about
GEORGIA-BASED Raving Brands Inc.
is looking to expand its presence in Hawaii by leaps and bounds in the next three years. The company with nine restaurant concepts says it intends to lease 75,000 square feet of "A-list" real estate in Hawaii.
"Those are general projections," said Kane Lester, a director of real estate.
The number of restaurants and which concepts would occupy such square footage is yet to be determined, but the company would like to have 30 units operating in Hawaii by 2009.
Raving Brands' Hawaii franchisees have established three Planet Smoothies locations, with another on the way, and a Moe's Southwest Grill, famous for its one-pound burritos and enthusiastic staff greetings to customers.
To increase its footprint, Raving Brands is sending a team of sales and real estate folk here to introduce the company to new potential franchisees next Thursday.
Mick and the boys may have canceled their Honolulu tour date, but the Raving Brands Tour Day is still on for Nov. 9 at the Hawaii Prince Hotel, with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m. The company has been taking reservations online.
Raving Brands, much like other restaurant industry franchisors, is looking for "people who are serious about running heir own business, who ideally have restaurant experience of some kind, even if it was just waiting tables or cooking," said Lester.
"It is not something where you just open the doors and make money. It takes a lot of work ... a special person," he said -- not to mention a certain level of net worth to meet franchisee requirements.
Raving Brands operates at least one company-owned location of its nine concepts, but the rest of the 600 locations are franchisee-owned.
Some of its concepts seem a good fit for Hawaii, while others do not, Lester said.
"Shane's Rib Shack has shown a lot of strength wherever it goes," for instance.
Shane's produces traditional Southeastern barbecued pork and ribs, as well as other dishes and does not exactly compete against Tony Roma's. "Shane's is more fast-casual where you walk up to the counter, place your order ... and they call your name."
Boneheads Grilled Fish and Piri Piri Chicken, with spicy and nonspicy grilled seafood and chicken dishes, also seems likely, Lester said, citing Wahoo's Fish Taco as competition.
Other of its concepts, such as PJ's Coffee, might not work so well, he said, given "the costs associated with shipping from the roasting plant."
Raving Brands' newest concept, Flying Biscuit Cafe, is still just a two-unit, Atlanta-based operation purchased in August.
"We don't have the license to sell that yet, until January," Lester said. Food Network viewers may have seen the cafe profiled by Rachael Ray on "$40 a Day."
The franchise model is not formed, but the company sees Flying Biscuit as continuing to be a full-service restaurant that will have appeal in "bohemian neighborhoods," Lester said. Your columnist assured him that we have some of those.
Lester won't be here for Tour Day but has been in the islands to help scout the Pearlridge location for Moe's, for instance. He equated learning about Hawaii real estate prices to sticker shock. "It was higher than what we usually see," he said.
Raving Brands is aware that some national chains' Hawaii operations become their top producers. "They have to be, to justify those rents," he said.
But unlike some chains, though, it has no desire to set up shop in Waikiki.
"We're not looking for the tourists," he said. "We would like the local population. Then we get more marketing power and can support local high schools, churches" and other organizations, Lester said.
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: email@example.com