Ruby Tuesday nearing
deal for Ala Moana

The local franchise is seeking to
open its second location

Business is looking so rosy for the owners of the Ruby Tuesday franchise in Mililani that they are pursuing a deal to open a second restaurant in Ala Moana Center.

RT Restaurants Inc., a Hawaii partnership formed to bring the franchise to the state, is negotiating with General Growth Properties, manager of Ala Moana Center, to build a 4,500-square-foot restaurant, said Rick Nakashima, one of RT Restaurants partners.

"We hope to sign a contract next week," Nakashima said, adding that he and partners Ted Davenport and Will Keliinoi chose the location because of its high profile and steady retail traffic.

Ala Moana Center representatives did not return calls for comment.

The 170-seat restaurant, which would be a third smaller than the one in Mililani, will be on the third floor of the mall next to Jackie's Kitchen, in the space once occupied by a miniature golf facility, Nakashima said.

Construction on the new restaurant is slated to begin in July, with an October opening expected, he said. The new location would employ about 80 workers and the company will likely begin recruiting efforts in August, he said.

Expanding is an aggressive move for the company, Nakashima said, but success is driving the decision. Just last February, the team brought the first Ruby Tuesday to Hawaii when they opened a 6,500-square-foot, free-standing restaurant in Mililani Town Center.

"We've been real successful in Mililani and we feel Ala Moana will be just as successful," Nakashima said, adding that Ala Moana restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen and Bubba Gump are top performers in their chains.

Although Ruby Tuesday is primarily known along the Southeastern seaboard, Davenport got the idea to bring the franchise to Hawaii after eating at one of the restaurants during a trip to the mainland.

He shared the idea with his friend Nakashima, who listened because Davenport has had a long career in the food-and-beverage industry. Davenport opened a Subway Restaurants franchisee in Honolulu in 1991, and now is the district agent, overseeing nearly 90 Subway outlets in Hawaii.

When the two went to Tennessee to learn about the Ruby Tuesday franchise, they met Keliinoi, whose family moved from Hawaii to Alabama when he was very young. Keliinoi came back to attend the University of Hawaii, but returned to the mainland and eventually became a kitchen manager at Ruby Tuesday. By 1998, he was a managing partner in Ruby Tuesday in North Alabama and went on to teach restaurant operations at the company's training school in Knoxville, Tenn.

The partners, who have a contract with Ruby Tuesday Inc. to open four stores in Hawaii, are targeting other Oahu locations for expansion, Nakashima said. Ruby Tuesday Inc. is a publicly traded company with more than 700 company owned and franchised restaurants worldwide.


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