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GLENDALE, CA-Retailer Maui Wowi of Greenwood Village, CO has opened the first of six Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffees and Smoothies stores planned in Los Angeles and 15 expected to open statewide this year. Michael Haith, CEO of Maui Wowi, tells GlobeSt.com that the push into Los Angeles is part of a program to expand the chain’s emphasis on full-sized fixed location stores in addition to the kiosks that it operates nationwide.

Haith says the company’s first Los Angeles area store, in a strip mall at 604 W Glenoaks Blvd. in Glendale, is the first of what it expects will be scores of locations in Los Angeles and the rest of California. “Our culture fits perfectly with California,” the Maui Wowi CEO declares.

Los Angeles and California figure to be big parts of the chain’s growth for years to come, according to Haith. He says the company, which has 45 fixed locations nationwide and about 400 others that are kiosks or other types of sales venues, sees the potential for 1,000 Maui Wowi locations in the next five years and between 2,000 and 3,000 within 10 years.

Maui Wowi was founded in 1983 and began franchising in 1999. Although the chain still offers kiosks, drive-thru locations, event carts, mobile event trailers and catering carts, fixed locations “will be a huge part of our future growth,” Haith says.

“The fixed locations represent a new direction for us. Over the past few years, we’ve put a vast majority of our effort into designing the fixed location,” Haith adds.

Maui Wowi developed a line of coffees as well as a line of all-natural, fresh-fruit Hawaiian smoothies and gourmet hot chocolate in order to generate business throughout the day, Haith says. Although the Hawaiian motif might suggest that the chain is a warm climate concept, it’s surprisingly popular in colder climes.

“Our biggest market is Minneapolis,” Haith says. “It’s probably that in Minnesota, in the winter when the ground is covered with snow, people want a little piece of Paradise.”

The Maui Wowi CEO calls his company’s approach “atypical in that we started with more of a specialty concept and have evolved into more of a traditional concept for our stores.” Many other retailers, by contrast, start with a traditional format and develop specialty concepts later, he explains.

The Glendale location, where Maui Wowi held an open house for prospective franchisees last weekend, is a 1,000-sf store. Haith says Maui Wowi will be looking for sites of about 500 sf to 1,200 sf for future stores. It does some of its own site selection and sometimes works with brokers or site selection specialists, he says.

Maui Wowi is looking to open stores in malls, strip centers, lifestyle centers, airports, office buildings, health clubs and other retail locations. “We will locate anywhere where there is sufficient foot traffic,” Haith says. The company has two locations at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, for example, and many others in nontraditional retail locations such as convention centers, arenas, amphitheaters and ball parks, including Shea Stadium in New York.

In addition to its US expansion, the company hopes to grow internationally. Initial plans are for locations in Japan, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the Middle East.

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