If you had to describe Mo’ Bettahs in just a few words, what would they be?
Kalani: Mo’ Bettahs is like a small slice of Hawaii, through the music, the food and atmosphere we’ve created. It’s just a small slice of home.
What’s the story behind the name?
Kimo: In Hawaii, the locals speak a sort of creole language—a very casual English. Mo’ Bettahs is just a casual way of saying this place is better than the rest.
Your creamy macaroni salad is a huge hit with diners. Why is that?
Kalani: Everybody calls it “macaroni crack” salad because they just can’t get enough. It’s actually a very simple recipe. Part of the goodness is the process: The macaroni salad sits overnight so the flavors gel. It gets that unique taste that’s tied to the islands.
What are some other signature dishes?
Kimo: Chicken katsu dipped in ketchup-laced Mo’ Bettahs’ sauce. We take boneless chicken, bread it with panko and deep-fry it. We add our special dipping sauce and serve it with rice. It’s the simplest stuff on the planet, but people just love it.
Kalani: Any of our mixed plates are popular—the most popular being mixed teriyaki steak and chicken served with rice and macaroni salad. Our menu is small, and you can basically pick any dish and mix and match.
What items do you typically source from Sysco?
Kimo: We try to source everything we can through Sysco. We have some specialty items from Hawaii that our Sysco rep has been able to get for us, and it’s been a huge help. They work with the company that makes our soy sauce, and they also supply these juices that come directly from Hawaii. We couldn’t do it without Sysco.
How has Sysco been an integral partner to your success?
Kalani: Sysco has been a true partner from the very beginning. And in terms of building our confidence when we were starting out, it was incredible to have Sysco treat us as first-class partners from day one. They’ve always treated us like an established business from the beginning.
Any changes in the works for you?
Kalani: We just opened our first drive-through window, and it’s going great. From here on out, I think we will pick only sites that have drive-through windows, if we can help it. We’ve also got two or three new Hawaiian-style desserts planned.
What are your plans for the future?
Kimo: We are looking at opening seven or eight additional locations. We’re also looking beyond Utah, at areas of Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri and Kansas. Our four-year outlook is to build an additional 40 places across this part of the country. We are very optimistic.
How has the growth of the business surprised you?
Kalani: When we started this business, we knew that we liked the food and the laid-back feeling of Hawaii. And we thought, if we like it, then everybody else would love it, too. It was just a matter of time.
Kimo: Opening nearly a dozen locations in 11 years? That doesn’t surprise me so much. What surprises me is the volume we do out of each one. The amount of food we sell blows me away. It’s just been great.