A new restaurant acquisition group aims to invest as much as $100 million in Hawaii eateries. Kevin Burke, managing partner of California-based Trinity Capital LLC, has formed Trinity Restaurant Partners LLC with longtime Hawaii quick-service restaurant operator Chris Scanlan to buy local restaurants and bring new chains to the islands.
Burke describes Trinity Capital as a boutique investment banking and restructuring firm mainly focused on the restaurant and food industries. Its clients have included Burger King Corp., which this year is crowing about increased sales due in part to two new chicken items on its menu.
Until he resigned Friday, Scanlan was president and chief executive of Kazi Management LLC, which is Hawaii’s largest operator of franchised Burger King and KFC restaurants. It also operates fast food restaurants in eight other states.
Kazi Chief Financial Officer Eddie Park also has joined Trinity Restaurant Partners.
Scanlan and Park will operate from Los Angeles until their company has made an acquisition in the state and will then move to Hawaii, Scanlan said. He is building a home in East Honolulu and Park’s wife is local.
Scanlan declined to divulge the names of the restaurants his company plans to buy, but said an impending deal would just be the beginning.
“We feel there are great opportunities to acquire quick-service restaurants currently in Hawaii and the mainland and because of our experience in Hawaii we are targeting Hawaii as our No. 1 priority for acquisition.”
Burke and Scanlan cite successful Hawaii expansions of mainland chains such as Cheesecake Factory, Ruby Tuesday and others as validation that new restaurant brands can thrive in the islands.
Not all the fast-food restaurants that aren’t yet here would work here, however.
“Not all of the management of some of these (restaurant) concepts are sensitive to the issues in the islands that are prerequisites to success,” Burke said.
Anybody coming into Hawaii to do business must “walk before you run and be respectful. It’s important to embrace local culture,” he said.
The child of a U.S. Navy pilot, Burke has been visiting the islands since the 1960s.
“It is always a breath of fresh air. People here are nice. They’re not in a hurry and I think that this is a great place to do business because there’s so much integrity in the people here, and loyalty and character,” Burke said.
A recent study found Hawaii to be the most expensive state for business, which Burke countered. “You know, when you look at that, you have almost the highest volumes in the nation of any retail concept.”
“There’s just such a warm feeling for the people here and I think that crosses over into the business side. I think people are comfortable doing business here,” Burke said.
He recruited Scanlan for his accomplishments in building Kazi from an eight-store KFC franchisee into the second-largest KFC franchisee in the United States. It is now a nine-state company that also operates Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, A&W and Burger King Restaurants. It is Hawaii’s largest Burger King franchisee with 22 locations.
“Chris is a wonderful guy, well-known, well-respected and accomplished. He’s hard-working and he’s got that unique combination of cerebral horsepower and humility … whereas a CEO he’s smart enough to lead but also able to listen to the troops and get a good view of the business from the ground up,” said Burke.
As it happens, three top Burger King corporate executives are in Hawaii for meetings with local franchisees and employees — and will stage a photo opportunity at the Burger King on Beretania Street.
Scanlan helped set up the tour.
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