BY MORGAN LEGEL
While times are still uncertain, business owners are expanding or creating and launching new brands.
Island Girl Coffee ‘n Quenchers Guam will open at a fourth location at the Dededo Mall, which is currently under construction.
“It’s going to be right near Taco Bell; it’s a drive through,” Richard Hawes, owner of Island Girl told the Journal. “It will be even better than the Barrigada location. We should open in eight weeks, so realistically by Aug. 1 at the latest.
“No one’s really serving that area … and we have observed that location is so busy; and this will be incremental business for us.”
Neil Paynter, owner and managing principal of ARI Partners Architecture, designed the 40-foot container and its interior. Landscape Management Systems Inc. will also help in the erection and construction of the shop space.
Hawes said the project had to wait, due to the recent COVID permitting setbacks. “It did take about four months to even get the building permit,” he said.
The Dededo location will add about 10 new employees, but Leah Atalig — the incoming manager, has been with the company for four years.
Hawes said since the pandemic began, it has actually increased Island Girl revenue.
“The business is booming,” he said. “We’re up 30% — even through COVID — because drive-throughs have become the new business model. We had three stores, and it was a good business, but the change in the environment for drive-throughs lent to a good business plan.”
The Island Girl location at Home Depot in Tamuning, which is a coffee truck, is still not open because Home Depot’s corporate headquarters is not allowing food vendors to open at any location.
“The destination is really good for us,” Hawes said. “I could have moved out and moved the truck somewhere else, but I’m going to give them a few more months, because it is a high-traffic area for us.”
Once the Dededo location has had its grand opening and the Home Depot truck is back up and running, Island Girl will have about 40 total employees on island, including Shalyn Allen, general manager and director, and Brey Rosario, senior manager. Hawes says he “could not have run the business without their valuable contributions.”
Hawes is also the managing director of Gemkell Group; Gemkell brands include Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Chloé, Le Sportsac, Givenchy, Lacoste, Longchamp, Marc Jacobs and Kenzo. Balenciaga, Chloé and Givenchy are currently the only stores open, Hawes said and by appointment only.
Gemkell also operates Friends & Family Outlet Guam, which offers products from Gemkell’s other brands at close-out prices.
Hawes said because the outlet was pretty much able to operate throughout the pandemic. “That’s what I used to generate the cash to pay all of the bills.”
Looking forward at the economy, Hawes said, “We know that tourism will come back, but we don’t anticipate anything happening until the end of the year. And then maybe only 50% of our 2019 numbers.”
Dylan R. Saad, owner and chef of Primo Pizzakaya and now Savage Sandwich Co. as well, opened his new sandwich restaurant in December.
Savage Sandwich is located in Tumon, underneath the Shamrocks Pub & Eatery location. The sandwich shops offers a new spin on old-time favorites, like the Savage Reuben and the Twisted Bahn-mi. Saad created the current main menu, but a revolving sandwich of the month and other menu items moving forward are developed in a team environment.
“It’s fun and I definitely want to empower the team to take ownership and help develop,” he said.
Saad said he always knew he wanted to open a second restaurant, and even before he had the location, he had built the Savage concept, brand, menu and color scheme, as well as collected all collateral needed to open the new restaurant once the space was located.
“COVID gave me a chance to look at the practicality of it and how it would go,” he said. “But it was really the opportunity presenting itself as to why we opened when we did. We had planned to wait a little bit, but a location opened up that I had been interested in for a long time; it was just the right moment.”
He decided on a sandwich concept because he liked the similarity to the pizza concept he already had.
“I’m a very big fan of eating with hands; there’s like a primal instinct that goes along with it,” Saad said. “A fork and knife are just very proper, but when you’re eating with your hands it becomes very reminiscent of before we had society, you get to be more into your meal.”
LongHorn Steakhouse at Guam Premier Outlets opened doors on May 17, after a long journey that began in 2019. LongHorn is a business unit of Apple Pacific Restaurant Group, which also does business as Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, IHOP Restaurant, Pieology Pizzeria and Olive Garden on Guam. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The Texas-sized menu includes many steakhouse staples, plus items like Texas brisket queso, dinache steak topping and parmesan creamed spinach.
Due to the pandemic, Richard W. Hart, president and CEO and the LongHorn team initially opted to sell cook-at-home steaks through its partner store, Olive Garden.
“It was because we were scheduled to open in March of 2019,” said Donna De Dios, general manager for LongHorn. “Right after we started setting up the restaurant, COVID hits and we’re shut down. Our opening products were here already, so we decided to do it, because it was sell those products or trash them.”
The new Tamuning location has 65 front of house employees, with 30 to 40 servers, 12 hosts and eight bartenders. There are also nearly 50 back of house employees as well.
“For right now, we have to consider that some employees are working double jobs because they want to recover [income], so they may only be specifically working on certain days and times; that’s why we have so many employees right now,” De Dios said.
As to occupancy, 150 people can be seated with the current 75% capacity, with a full-dining room of 275.
Although Leah M. Del Mundo has been a realtor for several years, she and her husband, Alex, founded Living On Guam Realty in November 2018. Del Mundo brought in a new selling program in February 2020 – 72SOLD.
She is the only realtor marketing the national program, as the program only certifies one in every 10,000 realtors in an area.
Living On Guam’s main clientele are the island’s military families.
“My husband was in the business before me, so he fell into the military housing thing. Most realtors serve everybody, but we wanted to specialize and be known as the go-to.”
And that’s the reason Del Mundo leaned towards the system.
“I’m a person who loves to learn,” she said. “We’re in an island in the middle of nowhere where people are set in their ways, but I believe there’s more than what’s here. And in my learning, I stumbled upon 72SOLD.”
She said she loves the program because she thinks it fits right in with her company’s military niche.
“A lot of folks when they leave and PCS out, they’re in a hurry to sell that home,” she said. With 72SOLD, the majority of the decisions lie in the seller’s hands versus the buyer’s, like the date of closing.
While Del Mundo declined to reveal many “secrets of the strategy” to the copyrighted system, she did say that not every house and seller qualifies. The condition of the home, the house pricing and urgency to sell all tie in to whether the home-selling system will work in each scenario.
“It’s basically human psychology,” she said. It drums up competition and that’s the basis of the program.
Del Mundo said she believes in the program and all the benefits it can bring.
“I make the selling process easier,” she said. “When folks are already stressed out from their PCS move, what I wanted to do was help give the sellers convenience. I’ve never seen a system like this where the leverage is there. With the style and process of 72SOLD, it really helps the sellers get top dollar for their properties.”
The first sale via the program last year was in Dededo, and did not even reach the 72-hour mark that the system strives for, Del Mundo said
“For all the sellers we have used the system with — they have been very happy with the results.”
Jerry Kitchen, the Tamuning restaurant that closed in March due to a vehicle crash at the property, has reopened its doors for business from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Opake boutique in Tumon also reopened in May.
Subway Restaurants celebrated its new location at the Naval Communication Station with a ribbon-cutting and buy one, get one free offer on May 28.
Sling Stone Coffee and Tea Co. will be testing a mobile coffee cart at its sister restaurant, Green Lizzard, during the day beginning June 1. The cart will stay open until 6 p.m., when Green Lizzard opens.
I&E Mini Storage System in Tamuning will be closing, effective June 15, and the building will be sold, due to business being slow because of the pandemic, according to an employee.
The Hotel Santa Fe Guam has also closed for the time being. Bartley A. Jackson, president and owner of the Santa Fe, told the Journal that the hotel has closed temporarily and is not accepting reservations at this time. mbj