Olive Garden and Trader Joe’s, two of the most talked-about national brands that have yet to enter the Hawaii market, could be among the mix of retailers and restaurants to open at a large retail development under development on Maui, according to a source with knowledge of the developer’s plans.
California-based Eclipse Development Group CEO Doug Gray told PBN that they are in negotiations with tenants for the 400,000 square-foot Piilani Promenade in Kihei, but would not disclose any names.
“We are very excited about the response,” he said. “We are talking to tenants with no presence on Maui and several not in the Islands [at all].”
Although Gray wouldn’t confirm if his company was in discussions to bring an Olive Garden restaurant to Hawaii, he did say that Eclipse Development Group has done multiple deals with Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) at some of its other developments, including its most recent project in Connecticut.
Darden Restaurants, the parent company of both Olive Garden and Red Lobster, said earlier this month that it is employing a new strategy in smaller U.S. cities that combines the casual dining chain’s popular Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants into one combination store. The Orlando, Fla.-based Darden has one restaurant in Hawaii, a Red Lobster in Waikiki.
Tara Gray, a spokeswoman for Darden told PBN in an email it does not have any specific plans for an Olive Garden location on Maui at this time.
“Olive Garden continues to grow, so our real estate teams are constantly looking for new sites across the country,” she said.
Last July, PBN reported that Olive Garden had its eyes on Hawaii, noting that multiple commercial real estate brokers said that the Italian restaurant is actively looking for its first Hawaii site.
But PBN also reported, almost at that same time, that there wasn’t even a rumor going around that Trader Joe’s was making a trip across the Pacific Ocean to open its first Hawaii location.
The California-based specialty grocery chain would undoubtedly be a popular stop for most Hawaii residents and visitors. But Hawaii’s shipping and warehousing logistics issues seem to be a big barrier for them.
Trader Joe’s officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Since 2006, national brands from Whole Foods Market (NYSE: WFM) to Target (NYSE: TGT) to Victoria’s Secret to Bed Bath & Beyond have opened their first, and in some cases second and third, Hawaii stores, expanding the retail choices for locals and tourists.
Others on the tentative list for Piilani Promenade includes another first-timer to Hawaii, Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS), as well as Victoria’s Secret, Bed Bath & Beyond (Nasdaq: BBBY), Express, Banana Republic, an as-yet-to-be-named large bookstore and a Super Target, which has both a retail and grocery mix, which would be its first location in Hawaii.
Mya Walters, a spokeswoman for Target, told PBN in an email that it has no details to share at this time.
Site construction for both Piilani Promenade and the adjacent 300,000 square-foot Maui Outlets, which would become the largest one of its kind in Hawaii, has begun.
Despite these movements, the project still faces some hurdles, one being a challenge from numerous Maui groups before the state Land Use Commission.
Officials there told PBN that a hearing is tentatively set for Aug. 23-24 on Maui.
(Report Provided by Pacific Business News)