Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade got its start out of a trailer.
The brand’s fresh-pressed lemonades grew a following through night markets and farmers markets in Hawaii, finding fans among locals and tourists alike, CEO Tim Weiderhoft said.
Its first brick-and-mortar shop opened in 2014. Now, the concept has 17 locations, including two in Japan, and plans to double its unit count by next year.
Weiderhoft said the brand’s values are what set it apart from other fast-casual concepts.
“We lead with our values, and I think those values and who we are as individuals is a major difference,” he said. “You can get a great lunch anywhere, but can you get a great lunch anywhere by a brand that’s focused on the things that are most important to your community?”
Weiderhoft defines those values as being enriched by Hawaiian culture.
“First and foremost … we embrace that spirit of aloha. It’s not just a greeting for us, it’s a way of life, it’s one of the first things that we learned starting in Hawaii—the world could use a whole lot more kindness, so we show kindness in everything that we do,” he said.
In addition to lemonade, Wow Wow serves acai bowls, smoothies, gourmet toasts and flatbread sandwiches. The menu is also 100% vegetarian and 77% vegan, according to Weiderhoft.
Weiderhoft noted that while the plant-forward trend has grown recently, plant-based ingredients have been a key aspect of Wow Wow since the very start.
“That’s something for us that’s been core from the beginning, not just something that’s been a fad,” he said.
Sustainability is also integral at Wow Wow. The chain sells reusable mason jars and gives 10% off to customers who bring them in for refills. And it has collaborated with How Good, which provides the chain with sustainability intelligence regarding its menu items.
“We’re able to take all of our products, every single recipe that we have, and put it through our program with How Good, which allows us to determine the climate friendliness of our products,” Weiderhoft said. “As an example, our classic lemonade scores an 85 on How Good’s metric for impact to the environment, that’s 30 points higher than the standard in the food industry.”
The Arizona-based brand has also placed a focus on community partnerships.
“We value our local community. So, we support a ton of local events, we like to service our local community, we like to be a positive force with our teams and our customers,” Weiderhoft said. “The majority of our locations have some sort of partnership with local schools. We also have partnerships in different areas with organizations that help align to our values.”
Weiderhoft said that through the company’s collaborations, Wow Wow has able to put their values into practice.
“We’re not just saying we’re doing something,” he said. “We’re utilizing a ton of data and relying on really strong strategic partners to ensure that we’re practicing what we preach.”
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