By Tim Weiderhoft, CEO, Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade
Wow Wow’s roots are in Hawaii. That is why we are named Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade. But the fact of the matter is that we are not a Hawaiian company. We are not owned by Hawaiians, nor were we founded by Hawaiians. Yes, some of our franchisees and even a member of our corporate team were born in Hawaii and have a strong connection to the brand because of the fond memories that they had as customers when they lived on the Islands. But because our brand’s wonderful journey is intrinsically linked with the sands of a culture that is taught to show homage to mother earth, then we naturally reflected that position as well. Hence, this is why back in 2012, when we were popping up in local farmer markets on Oahu, when we were only serving lemonade, it was made with fresh, raw, all-natural, locally sourced ingredients. And in 2014, when we started adding acai and smoothie bowls to our menu at our Kihei, Maui location, they were consistently rated as (and still are) one of the most beloved bowls on the island due to the freshness as well as the proper preparation and creation of our bowls.
As we have expanded our menu over the years, we have been very intentional when building our recipes. The questions we ask ourselves for new menu options are the following:
- Does it have a great flavor profile?
- Can it be made with real ingredients?
- Is the manner we are sourcing these ingredients eco-friendly?
- Is the food plant-based?
But because we want to make sure we have an array of choices for all types of diets, we utilize proteins like hummus, quinoa, avocado, and almond. And when factoring in carbohydrates into our ingredients, we use either whole or complex carbs like bananas, strawberries, chickpeas, and quinoa. Our Granola, which is from Laura’s Gourmet Granola, is absolutely delicious as well as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, soy-free, Kosher, and has no colors or fillers. These choices are intentional. We have always had a plant-based menu. Moreover, 77% of our recipes are vegan without any changes or substitutions. This means that our vegan customers can confidently walk into our stands and have over 30 food and beverage options from the get-go.
What we think will be a real game changer for our brand in the coming months and years is our new partnership with HowGood, which is “The world’s largest product sustainability database” according to its website. They have managed to catalog over 34,000 ingredients worldwide. They share reports to brands on how sustainable and eco-friendly their food is based on a vetted and reviewed researched criteria matrix. Now, we can see more granularly how our recipes affect the planet, and by having this detailed data, we will be able to, when appropriate, modify current recipes, or develop new ones that will be more sustainable and eco-friendlier than we already have today.
Not only is this approach to menu development good for the planet but it resonates greatly with the younger generations. Millennial and Gen Z consumers, by and large, are looking for their brands to be transparent in what and how they are preparing their food. And as veganism is no longer looked at as a wacky-hippy lifestyle choice but one which people, of all dietary desires, see as a healthy option, Wow Wow is poised to continue our volcanic growth in the coming years. More people than ever, especially millennials and Gen Z consumers, consciously search for restaurants that have nutrient-rich menu selections that are easy to understand due to the fresh and all-natural ingredients within them. In fact, The Restaurant Industry 2030 Report by the National Restaurant Association says that the development of plant-based meals and healthier options will continue to grow in popularity.
We cannot claim back in 2012 that we knew the world a decade later would be shifting quickly to a higher plant-based percentage menu consumption. Our roots were simply burrowed into the soil of Hawaii – a culture known for its reverence to the sea, the land, and the soul. We have tried to keep the spirit of aloha alive in our stands because that is truly the essence of who we are and for whom we strive to be. Luckily for us, the younger generations have a greater thirst for real, healthy, and nutrient-rich fare than previous ones, which makes Wow Wow a great option for them.
Prior to his role as CEO with Wow Wow, Tim Weiderhoft served as the Vice President of Franchise Development for Massage Envy Franchising overseeing all domestic sales, growth, business development, and private equity partnerships. Prior to his time with Massage Envy, Tim held leadership positions with Dave & Buster’s and FedEx Office. Tim began his career in restaurants and retail receiving a BA in Business Administration and an MS in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona. He is a fourth-year doctoral candidate with Capella University and has a passion for education and business.
For more information on Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonades franchising opportunities, visit www.wowwowfranchise.com.