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Ruby Tuesday to open Maui and Kapolei sites

Ruby Tuesday to open Maui and Kapolei sites

Ruby Tuesday is adding three restaurants in Hawaii, bringing the total in the islands to seven.

RT Hawaii Restaurants Inc., founded by Kaiser High School graduates Ted Davenport and Rick Nakashima, will open a Ruby Tuesday in Kihei, Maui, in January.

The partners plan to open another Ruby Tuesday in Kapolei Commons in 2012, under an agreement with the MacNaughton Group, which is also Ruby Tuesday’s landlord at Moanalua Shopping Center.

The Kihei Ruby Tuesday will take the space where Roy’s restaurant used to be. The interior will be "gutted," Nakashima said. "The architects are starting to draw right now."

The location of the third new restaurant hasn’t been announced, but there are many suitors.

As happens with many national chain restaurants’ Hawaii locations, the four current Ruby Tuesdays — in Mililani, Ala Moana Center, Windward Mall and Moanalua Center — make the partners proud.

"Our Moanalua and Windward (Mall) locations are (regularly) in the top five in the world, and there are about 900 of them now," Nakashima told "TheBuzz."

The Hawaii restaurants "outperform basically every domestic Ruby Tuesday except the one in Times Square, New York," he said, though it has much greater capacity than the Hawaii stores. "So it’s (Big) apples and oranges."

Papa’s expanding his house

Papa John’s will expand to the Big Island and Maui, which will satiate all those neighbor islanders who see founder John Schnatter in the company’s appetizing TV commercials only to be left salivating.

Local Papa John’s restaurants are operated under P.J. Hawaii LLC, owned by master franchisees Quan Nguyen and Frank Carney (yes, the Pizza Hut co-founder).

"We’re looking at Hilo for now," Nguyen said. He and Carney are close to signing a franchisee agreement for the area and are securing a franchisee for Maui.

Hilo’s first Papa John’s could open by the end of the year or in the first quarter of next year, Nguyen said. Stores are to open within six months of franchisee signings.

Carney is co-founder of the rival Pizza Hut chain and joined Papa John’s in the 1980s. He and the company stirred up buzz in the pizza and advertising industries by appearing in a Papa John’s TV commercial that depicted a Pizza Hut board of directors meeting — at which Carney announced he’d found "a better pizza."

Schnatter was in Hawaii yesterday to visit the first Hawaii store, in Mapunapuna, and to help present a $5,000 check to the Na Koa Football Club, which supports the University of Hawaii Warrior Football program.

As still camera shutters snapped and video cameras rolled, Schnatter handed his cell phone to another Papa John’s official, asking for a shot of him, UH athletic director Jim Donovan, Nguyen and other officials holding the oversize check.

A trio of hula dancers performed.

Schnatter’s last visit to Hawaii, specifically Maui, was 15 years ago. Due in Korea today, then China, Bahrain and other far-flung franchisee locations, Schnatter will later vacation with family in Hawaii, according to a news release about the check presentation.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at erika@staradvertiser.com.


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