Popular food stand Chubbies Burgers is relocating to a restaurant space in Kaimuki, the business announced Wednesday.
The restaurant — which will mark the first brick-and-mortar for the brand — will occupy the space that formerly housed Koko Head Cafe, which recently relocated to a larger space nearby.
The company will shutter the current trailer location at Ward Village at the end of April, with a final date yet to be announced. (Chubbies Burgers is selling its current food trailer, and interested buyers can email [email protected])
Chubbies has not set an official opening date yet but is aiming to launch in the new space in early May.
For Chubbies owner Jeffrey Nedry, the move marks the fruition of a longtime dream. Nedry told PBN that opening a permanent storefront was always his goal.
“I’m excited to finally get our vision into a restaurant space. My intention in opening the food truck six years ago was kind of as a proof of concept to test this style of a burger concept,” he said.
“I’d been looking for a long time for the right space,” he added. “We were waiting for something that was the right fit — that had parking, that had a kitchen that would allow us to do all of our house-made ingredients, and that was in the right neighborhood. We’re super grateful that something finally came along.”
Nedry launched Chubbies Burgers in 2016, initially as a food truck that drove around to various parts of the island, before eventually settling its current home at Ward Village.
Over the years, Chubbies has amassed a large following for its classic smash burgers made with local ingredients and fresh veggies.
The following has been so strong, in fact, that the company has been facing capacity issues for quite some time. By 2019, customer demand was outpacing production capacity in the truck. Later that year, Nedry debuted the current trailer, which is twice the size of the original truck, to be able to serve more customers.
More recently, demand has continued to grow. Chubbies said it has had to move to three different prep kitchens within the last 18 months in order to support demand.
“On a busy day, we are restocking the trailer four times a day, just to have enough product to get through the sales,” Nedry said.
The move to the restaurant space will help accommodate further growth, the company says.
Having the larger space will also allow Chubbies to conduct what Nedry said will be “enhancements” to the menu. “The menu will still be the same menu that people know and love,” he said, but will also feature more vegetarian options and other new items including beer and cocktails.
Chubbies currently has a staff of about 15, and it will be looking to hire around 10 more employees ahead of the opening. Nedry is cognizant of hiring challenges in the current market, and he said that how many employees they are able to hire will help determine business hours.
“Staffing is a challenge for every industry right now, and we want to make sure that when we’re open, we’re not spread too thin and we’re serving the best product that we can,” he said.
The Kaimuki restaurant could be just the first step in what Nedry envisions as a larger expansion. He said they are already “in discussions” to open another brick-and-mortar location in the Kakaako area, possibly sometime next year.