Executive Chat – Grant Kreutzer Hawaiian Bros – January 2023

Executive Chat featuring Grant Kreutzer, VP Franchise Development with Hawaiian Bros.

by Rebecca Patt, SVP Development, Wray Executive Search

Hawaiian Bros. Island Grill is a fast-growing restaurant franchisor based in Kansas City, MO, positioned as a hybrid between a QSR and fast-casual, specializing in Hawaiian-style plate lunch.

What are the growth and development plans this year for Hawaiian Bros?

Since 2018, Hawaiian Bros has grown from two restaurants to 37 locations across six states – KS, MO, OK, TX, IL, NY – all company-operated. In September 2022, we issued our Franchise Disclosure Document for non-registration states and have begun to engage multi-unit franchise operators to explore franchising Hawaiian Bros. In 2023, we plan to open multiple locations in our existing and new markets.

What do you think are the keys to Hawaiian Bros quick expansion and success? 

We’re willing to test the boundaries, expand into markets quickly based on simple operating systems and high AUVs.  Most of the locations developed have been the conversion of existing second- generation real estate. Our simple menu, only 81 SKUs, has allowed for an efficient operation and fast speed of service, less than 30 seconds on average, resulting in high AUVs. Perfectly positioned between QSR and fast-casual, our island-inspired Hawaiian Plate Lunch concept is unique. We created our own category in a restaurant landscape saturated with burger, sandwich, and pizza chains.

Have there been any hurdles to overcome in markets where people might not be culturally familiar with traditional Hawaiian style plate lunch and items like spam musubi? 

The percentage of the US Mainland population who have visited Hawaii remains low, approximately 3% annually, however we’ve found the allure of Hawaii draws in customers to try our craveable menu. Our restaurants have no freezers, no fryers, and no microwaves, with an island-inspired Hawaiian Plate Lunch menu with flavors accessible to the mainland, offering something different, from the variety of juicy chicken marinated with teriyaki or glazed with sweet, savory, or spicy sauces, to the slow roasted Kalua pork. All plate lunches include delicious macaroni salad, a bed of fluffy steamed white rice or vegetables, and for something sweet, the smooth and delicious tropical Dole Soft Serve®. Customers love our Spam Musubi.

In addition, Hawaiian Bros is perfectly positioned between QSR and Fast Casual restaurants by catering to all customer preferences when ordering. The restaurant provides a personal, face-to-face guide who stands on the same side of the counter as their customers to walk them through the menu options and offers a self-service kiosk – both providing the customer with speed and accuracy in receiving their food.

What is the company culture like at Hawaiian Bros?

Hawaiian Bros culture is unique. We believe in spreading positivity through the Aloha spirit, and it resonates with how we treat our employees and serve customers with the greatest of vibes. ‘Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family, and it’s a culture we live and breathe. From managers, to crew, to customers we treat people right, and you can feel it every day. QSR Magazine ranked Hawaiian Bros #6 on their list of QSRs Best Brands to Work For certified report 2022 alongside Raising Cane’s and Portillo’s. https://www.qsrmagazine.com/content/qsrs-best-brands-work

What percentage of the brand is franchised? What do you look for when recruiting franchisees?

Currently in Jan 2023, Hawaiian Bros is entirely company operated. We issued our FDD in the fall of 2022 and are actively engaging multi-unit franchisees to explore franchising Hawaiian Bros in select markets. We’re recruiting experienced, multi-unit franchisees to join our franchise ‘Ohana. Our franchising requirements include ten or more years of restaurant ownership and operations experience, with the financial and operations capacity to develop and operate five or more Hawaiian Bros locations based on a market plan.

 

Looking to recruit top talent for your restaurant team? Contact Rebecca Patt at rebecca@wraysearch.com