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Emerging Brands

How Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade keeps its island vibe after moving to the mainland

The lemonade and acai bowl fast casual recently transplanted its headquarters to Arizona as it readies for growth.
smoothies
Photograph courtesy of Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade

Buzzworthy Brands

Buzzworthy Brands is a weekly Restaurant Business feature highlighting innovative growth brands that operators should keep an eye on.

The concept: Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade

The details: A fresh-lemonade and acai bowl concept with six domestic units (two in Hawaii and four in Arizona) and two stores in japan.

The backstory: The fast-casual concept has its roots as a farmers market stand in Hawaii in 2012. The concept caught on, and the stand grew into a trailer and then, in 2014, to a brick-and-mortar unit on Maui. The concept opened its first its first unit on the mainland in 2016. It moved its headquarters from Hawaii to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2019 when Tim Weiderhoft, formerly vice president of franchise development for Massage Envy, became its CEO. Weiderhoft began as a Wow Wow franchisee in 2018 after becoming friends with the chain’s founder.

Why it’s worth watching: In 2019, the concept was purchased by C&G Franchise Development, with a focus on growing the brand through franchising. Two stores are slated to open in the coming months, one in Albuquerque, N.M., and another in Livermore, Calif., with seven additional units in the pipeline.

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Photograph courtesy of Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade

HERE ARE FIVE GROWTH-MINDED QUESTIONS WITH WOW WOW HAWAIIAN LEMONADE CEO TIM WEIDERHOFT:

  1. Why did the company’s headquarters recently move from Hawaii to Arizona?

The business continued to grow. They said, “If we’re going to expand, we want to take the opportunity to go to the mainland. What’s a good place that would be welcoming of lemonade?” And we settled on Arizona. … One of the great things about Arizona is that lemonade is our state drink. We’re a very active community.

  1. You’ve kept the chain’s founder on as creative director. What’s his role today?

Todd (Casselberry) is still very influential on our menu and how we’re looking at bringing additional fresh flavors and trends to lemonade and acai bowls. One of the big goals is to maintain and honor the island we came from.

  1. How do you stand out from other juice and smoothie concepts?

We don’t consider ourselves a juice concept. We’re a gourmet lemonade stand. We want to keep a close eye on the competition, but we look at ourselves as our most worthy rival. We are massively focused on leaving an environmental footprint that’s better than the one we took over. We use as much compostable material as possible. We have a reusable Mason jar program. We give people a discount for bringing their jars in.

  1. What’s your prime daypart?

We’re very busy for breakfast and lunch. Acai bowls, they’re not just a sweet treat. It can be a meal replacement, if desired. We also have a nice happy hour crowd. Right after high school lets out, it’s seen as a cool place to hang out. Density for families and a real community vibe is what we look for in real estate. We wouldn’t necessarily go to a place geared toward seasonal traffic. We’d go to a place where there’s density, close to a high school, close to where people are. We don’t want to be a destination point. We want to be part of someone’s lifestyle.

  1. Your product seems like a natural fit for social media marketing. How do you position your brand for social?

We try to focus our Instagram and social media direction as being inspirational and not informative. A lot of brands in the healthy food range try to convince you why things are healthy. At the end of the day, that’s not necessarily proven to make people go, “Wow. That’s what I want.” For us, we really try to stick to what has made us successful. It’s the lifestyle that’s important to us. The spirit of aloha.

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