Maui’s Coconut’s Fish Cafe recently cleared a significant regulatory hurdle and has been approved to begin franchising in California. Officials at the island-themed fish restaurant believe the move into California will put Coconut’s on the cusp of becoming a major, emerging brand in the fast-casual market.
“Every third customer at our restaurant in Hawaii comes from California,” says Daniel Oney, Coconut’s Chief Operations Officer. “After their third or fourth visit in a week, they leave to go back to California and invariably ask when we’ll be there too. Thankfully, ‘imminently’ is now our answer.”
Coconut’s Fish Cafe was founded in 2009 by Michael Phillips. Despite the down economy, Coconut’s enjoyed the support and patronage of Maui’s local population. The restaurant soon developed a following that began attracting tourists, who then became advocates for franchising as they lined up to try to become the next partner for Phillips’ restaurant.
Coconut’s began its mainland expansion in 2013 by opening a restaurant in Arizona. The success was immediate and it became obvious that the restaurant could duplicate its initial growth on the Mainland. In 2014, Coconut’s found a multi-unit franchisee in Texas and expanded its corporate structure to support future growth throughout the Western United States. The company has finalized a deal in Texas for multiple franchised locations to begin opening later in 2014. But with the doors to California opening, the leaders at Coconut’s feel that their biggest market just opened for business.
Working with its consultants and market experts, Coconut’s has identified dozens of submarkets in both Northern and Southern California that fit the Coconut’s model for franchise opportunities. With the company’s focus on finding qualified multi-unit developers, California represents a growing opportunity for investment and return.
Coconut’s Fish Cafe features Hawaiian fish and flavors combined with a focus on health-conscious options. The food inspires repeat customers with fresh, bright flavors that are served with the culture of aloha. “Aloha isn’t just a greeting at Coconut’s,” says Phillips, the Founder and CEO, “It’s a spirit of love and welcome that is essential to the Hawaiian Islands. It’s part of the culture we’ve adopted for our family of restaurants. As much as the food makes us unique, our Aloha is what I’m particularly proud of.”
Coconut’s structured growth plan will provide for a set number of openings in 2015, with the calendar open on a first-qualified, first-served basis for franchisees.
Photo courtesy Coconut’s Fish Cafe