The growth strategy is supported by strong financials. Mo’ Bettahs has experienced five straight years of same-store sales growth, including 13.7 percent, 10.6 percent, 5.5 percent, and 10.7 percent in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. Total revenue grew from $20 million in 2019 to $38 million last year.
The concept boasts an average check of $20.80, and an AUV of $2.1 million. Store-level margin is 24 percent, and that’s accounting for the commodity pressure felt throughout last year. Prior to inflation, Mo’ Bettahs was seeing EBITDA in the 28 percent range, and Ertmann said the company sees a path back to that mark.
Meals are purchased almost equally between the afternoon and evening dayparts, with dinner having the slight 51 percent edge. Off-premises accounts for roughly 34 percent of sales.
“We’re exited to share this concept with the world,” Kalani said. “Our food does incorporate ingredients that do come from Hawaii. We have strategic vendors that we work with that are very old vendors, dear to people in Hawaii. We go through the lengths that we need to bring in those ingredients so that are food is as authentic as possible and we can share that authenticity with the world.”
Traditionally, stores have been inline, endcap, and standalone, but as the brand went through 2019 and into 2020, the fast casual began leaning heavily into drive-thru. Restaurants are usually between 2,600 to 3,000 square feet.
Expansion is now focused more on endcap and standalone units where the brand can leverage the revenue-driving drive-thru channel, which is now featured in more than 50 percent of the company’s system. Mo’ Bettahs costs roughly $600,000 to build, with a payback period of less than two years.
The restaurant is powered by a “pretty healthy tech stack,” Ertmann said, like Compeat, Brink POS, Wisetail, Harri, ADP, ezCater, ServiceChannel, SOCi, and Ovation Up.
The brand is currently undergoing a refresh, such as updated logos and upgraded interior designs. The prototype, debuting later this year, speaks to the principles on which Mo’ Bettahs was founded, meaning the dining room welcomes customers into what feels like a home or backyard in Hawaii.
The inside features surfboards that have actually been used in The Aloha State, paddles that highlight Hawaiian canoeing, and other photos to emphasis the authentic experience. Grills are a centerpiece of the back of house, so customers can see and smell their food being prepared.
Mo’ Bettahs operates with a set of values from Hawaiian culture, including Kuleana (responsibility), Mo’omeheu (culture), Ho’okipa (hospitality and aloha), Ho’okuku (competitiveness), and Miki’oi (fine craftsmanship).
But there is one that stands out most to newcomer Ertmann, and will guide Mo’ Bettahs on its growth journey.
“What’s great about this and what I continue to learn from Kimo and Kalani every day is how important it is to live a ‘Pono’ lifestyle, which means to do things the right way, to make sure that you’re practicing things, and you’re making sure you’re getting them done with perfection," Ertmann said.