Owner Jesse Cruz has brought on an investor to help fund the build-out of the new 3,200-square-foot space, expected to cost about $1.5 million. It is located at the Grove, a 109,000-square-foot building currently under construction as part of the second phase of DeBartolo Development’s shopping center.
“I hope to sign the lease by January and open by May or June,” Cruz said.
The 100-seat restaurant will have an open kitchen so diners can watch the ramen-making process.
“We will be able to add a few more menu items because the kitchen is bigger, but I don’t want to get too far from what the brand is,” Cruz said. “We may make some of the specials here part of the permanent menu there, like the whole fried fish or lobster.”
Cruz decided to expand the Lucky Belly concept because it is the most profitable of his three Oahu restaurants, which also include Livestock Tavern and Tchin Tchin. He owns the three restaurants with investor Marites Calad. His previous business partner, Dusty Grable, sold his share of the business last year.
Revenues for Lucky Belly have plateaued in recent years, which Cruz said may be due to the influx of restaurants in Chinatown.
“That’s why we are going to Kapolei,” Cruz said. “We hope this will bring new awareness to the brand, and maybe bring even more people to Chinatown.”
The Grove will be anchored by Foodland Farms, PetSmart and a Hawaii Pacific Health clinic. It broke ground in February and is scheduled to open in 2019 between 24 Hour Fitness and Jollibee’s. It’s being built by Swinerton Builders and designed by California-based HTH Architects and Honolulu-based AHL.
Another Oahu restaurant opening its second location at Ka Makana Alii is MJ Cafe. Mocha Java Café's sister restaurant, which first opened in the Windward Mall food court in 2012, is expected to open soon in a 1,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by HI Cravings in the West Oahu mall.
“I love the energy and newness of Kapolei," Owner Luzia Maia previously told PBN. "The city is growing, and there is a lot happening that is bringing in all different kinds of people to the area. It feels exciting, and it feels right."
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