BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Maui Wowi, where summer is celebrated year-round


BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Maui Wowi, where summer is celebrated year-round

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Fall may be on its way, but summer can be celebrated year round in Berry Farms, where Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies will celebrate its grand opening Oct. 4.

Fall may be on its way, but summer can be celebrated year round in Berry Farms, where Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies will celebrate its grand opening Oct. 4.

One of the country’s fastest-growing and most lauded franchises, Maui Wowi is conveniently located at 4020 Hughes Crossing, Suite 100, just off the I-65 Goose Creek interchange. It opened in late August and has quickly become the “it” place to go for a healthy treat or great cup of coffee.

“We welcome any morning commuters to swing through our drive through and enjoy a five-minute vacation from the traffic,” says franchisee and local Maui Wowi owner Eric and Holley Rilko. “We love providing stay-at-home moms a getaway. They can come with their children and give them a nice healthy alternative while enjoying a nice cup of espresso or drip coffee.”

“We have the ‘Aloha spirit.’ If you are looking for a nice relaxing time and delicious coffee or smoothies, we are here for you.”

Eric Rilko likes to call Maui Wowi’s menu items, “a vacation in a cup” and he’s spot on.

Maui Wowi smoothies consist of all-natural fruit puree, bananas and live cultured yogurt to create the finest exotic flavors you can imagine, which makes them a wonderful alternative for that mid-afternoon or morning craving.

But smoothies aren’t Maui Wowi’s only specialty. Anyone who has visited the Hawaiian Islands is likely already familiar with Kona coffee, one of the smoothest and most highly prized coffees available. Kona coffee beans must be grown in one of two specific mountainous regions of the Big Island of Hawaii to bear the name. Luckily you only have travel as far as Berry Farms to enjoy it.

Though inspired by the spirit of Maui, the company got its start on the ski slopes of Colorado. That’s where founders Jill and Jeff Summerhays got their start 28 years ago in a simple, makeshift wooden stand.

In fact, the notion began on their 1982 honeymoon at Sun Valley, where ski conditions were less than ideal. Out of sheer boredom and thirst, the Summerhays started mixing fruits and other ingredients in their blender.

Having grown up in California in the 1960s with a health-conscious mother, Jill noticed that no healthy drink alternatives existed. Recognizing a potential business idea, a young and ambitious Jill experimented with recipes for the next three months, finally creating the fruit-based beverage she was striving for.

“We knew it tasted good but it was untested; we wanted some way to turn people on to it,” she says. They decided to try them out at outside events.

The night before the first event, the couple mixed up a few gallons of their original smoothie recipe. They decorated a Tuff Shed with lights, homemade signs and palm trees. They sent girls dressed in Hawaiian clothes out in the crowd with samples.

“We knew we had to educate people that there was something else to drink besides soda and chocolate shakes. With one taste, they were in our line waiting for a full cup.” Jeff says.

Before they knew it, Maui Wowi soon began to build a steady clientele and people started looking for the little shed that sold the “strange” new fruity frozen drink at events.

“It just blows us away that our simple little business idea of selling smoothies from behind a cart at an event has helped so many other people realize their dreams – it’s emotional,” Jill says of Maui Wowi, which now has hundreds of franchise locations across the county – and now in Franklin.

The Rilkos couldn’t be happier with their decision to open in south Franklin. But they are not just limiting themselves to Hughes Crossing.

“We will happily cater; everything from private parties like weddings and corporate parties to “No-Work” fundraisers and major events such as sporting events and concerts,” Eric Rilko says.

Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. No cash? No worries. They accept Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover cards.

While its prices are competitive every day, at the Oct. 4 Grand Opening celebration, mention this Business Spotlight between 2 and 6 p.m. to receive 20 percent off any small, regular or large beverage! A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. And between Oct. 4 and 11, 10 percent of all sales will be donated to High Hopes Therapeutic and Inclusive Preschool.

For more information, visit the shop at 4020 Hughes Crossing, Suite 100, Franklin; call 615-472-1445 or email exoticflavors@mauiwowi.org. Everyone’s invited to like the local Maui Wowi Facebook page. For more information about the company itself, visit mauiwowi.org.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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