Kahala Brands

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Kahala Brands
United States
Area served
Key people
Eric Lefebvre (CEO)[1]
ParentMTY Food Group

Kahala Brands is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada-based MTY Food Group Inc. of Montreal, Quebec. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Kahala is one of North America's largest holding company of franchise fast food restaurant companies.[2] In May 2016, the publicly traded Canadian MTY Food Group announced a friendly takeover deal with the Kahala Brands. MTY agreed to pay about US $300 million to acquire Kahala. The two companies generated near $2 billion in revenues in the previous year.[3][4] Jeff Smit was chosen to lead the US operations of MTY.


Surf City Squeeze was started in the early 1980s by Kevin Blackwell and his wife Kathi, and later became a franchise.[5] Later, in 1998/1999, Sports Group International, Inc. (a company that was originally formed to distributed Spalding-branded sports drinks) merged with Surf City Squeeze with Surf City Squeeze's management taking over full control of the company. Also in 1999, Sports Group International purchased Frullati Cafe & Bakery Chain, bringing the total number of its franchised locations to 200.[6][7]

In 2001, Kevin Blackwell changed the name of his company from Sports Group International to Kahala Corp. after terminating an agreement with Spalding.[8] Also in 2000, Kahala Corp. then developed the Rollerz brand.

From 2002 to 2006, Kahala Corp. purchased Ranch One Grilled Chicken,[9] Samurai Sam's Teriyaki Grill,[10] Taco Time,[11][12] Great Steak,[11] Johnnie's New York Pizzeria, and Blimpie.[11][12] Kahala also acquired the license to Wafflo.

In 2007, Kahala Corp and Cold Stone Creamery agreed to merge creating a combined company holding 13 diversified brands. The combined company generated more than $1.1 billion in system wide sales in partnership with 3,000-plus franchisees and more than 4,600 retail locations.[13][14] As a result of the merger, Kahala's CEO Kevin Blackwell and Cold Stone Creamery's CEO and chairman Doug Ducey were respectively appoint chairman and CEO of the new combined company, Kahala-Cold Stone.[15] Ducey left a few months later to join tech start-up iMemories[16] after being forced out by Blackwell.[17]

In July 2007, Kahala-Cold Stone acquired Cereality Cereal Bar & Cafe.[18]

In 2012, Kahala signed a franchising deal with Phoenix-based America’s Taco Shop.[19]

In 2013, a controlling interest in Kahala Corp. was purchased by the Serruya Family of Canada.[20] The Serruyas own and founded Yogen Fruz, a chain with 1400 stores around the world. At that time, Michael Serruya became Chairman and Co-CEO of Kahala Corp. Shortly thereafter, Co-CEO Kevin Blackwell left the company. The Serruya family changed the company name from Kahala Corp to Kahala Brands to better align the focus of the business.

In June 2015, Kahala Brands purchased Planet Smoothie and Tasti D-Lite.[21] This acquisition added 128 new locations to the overall company store count and increased the total of smoothie-focused locations to over 400 worldwide.[22]

Just a few month later in November 2015, Kahala Brands purchased the gourmet coffee and smoothie brand Maui Wowi.[23][24] At the time of the acquisition, Maui Wowi had with 400 mobile carts and 29 standalone retail units that operated by 200 franchisees. The following month, Kahala acquired Pinkberry in December.[25][26]

In July 2016, MTY Food Group Inc. of Montreal, Quebec in Canada purchased Kahala Brands for approximately US$310 million. Under the deal, Kahala remained in its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona while MTY's US operations was move into Kahala's offices. Kahala's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Smit was chosen to lead the US operations of the combined entity.[3]


The exterior of a Taco Time restaurant
  • America's Taco Shop – a restaurant chain with locations in Arizona and Maryland[27]
  • Baja Fresh – a restaurant chain of fast-casual Tex Mex restaurants (United States)
  • Blimpie – an American submarine sandwich chain with locations in the United States and Kuwait[11][12]
  • Cereality – a chain with stores in Texas, West Virginia, Minnesota and Ohio; formerly had stores in Illinois[11]
  • Cold Stone Creamery – an ice cream parlor restaurant chain with stores in Bahrain, Canada (partnership with Burger King/Tim Hortons), China, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United States, Philippines, Kenya, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Finland, Jordan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Vietnam and Singapore.[11][28]
  • Frullati Cafe & Bakery – chain with stores in Kuwait and the United States[11][29]
  • Great Steak – a restaurant chain with locations in Canada, Mexico, Kuwait and the United States.[11] Founded 1982;[30] formerly "Great Steak & Potato Company".[31] In 2000, it had 225 locations.[32] Sold to Kahala Brands in 2004;[33] expansion planned into South Korea.[34]
  • Johnnie’s New York Pizzeria – restaurant chain with stores in California, Florida, Oregon, Texas and Washington[28]
  • Kahala Coffee Traders (California, Utah)
  • Maui Wowi Hawaiian – chain with stores in the United States, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates[35]
  • NRgize Lifestyle Cafe (United States)[35][11]
  • Planet Smoothie – a chain of smoothie restaurants with stores in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia[28][36]
  • Pinkberry – a chain of frozen dessert restaurants with locations in Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Panama, Peru, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, United States, Philippines and Thailand[25][26]
  • Ranch One – a chain of restaurants specializing in grilled chicken breast sandwiches, with locations in Kuwait and the United States[11]
  • Rollerz (California, D.C., Illinois, Nevada and Texas)[11]
  • Samurai Sam's Teriyaki Grill (Kuwait and United States)[12]
  • Surf City Squeeze – a chain of smoothie restaurants with stores in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Curaçao/Netherlands Antilles and United States[35]
  • Taco Time (Canada, Kuwait, Curaçao/Netherlands Antilles and United States)[11][12]
  • Tasti D-Lite – a New York-based fast food company which sells products including a frozen dessert product, it has locations in Florida, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas
  • Grabbagreen - a chain of restaurants offering healthy foods and smoothies[37]


  1. ^ https://www.verdictfoodservice.com/news/mty-food-group-names-eric-lefebvre-new-ceo/
  2. ^ Jennings, Lisa (2007-05-27). "Kahala Merger Data". Nation's Restaurant News. Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2008-11-30 – via FindArticles.
  3. ^ a b "MTY Completes the Acquisition of Kahala Brands, Ltd". PR Newswire (Press release). July 26, 2016. The operations of Kahala will stay in Kahala's current headquarters, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, while MTY's US operations will move into Kahala's offices. Mr. Jeff Smit, Kahala's Chief Operating Officer, will be leading the US operations of the combined entity.
  4. ^ "MTY Foods set to double in size with acquisition of Kahala Brand". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. May 25, 2016. Archived from the original on May 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Dixon, E.; Dixon, T.; Carpenter, L. (2004). The 2004 Franchise Annual: Since 1969-The Original Franchise Handbook and Directory. Info Franchise News Incorporated. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-9730132-2-1. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  6. ^ "Kahala Corp History". Kahala Corporation. 2008-11-30. Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  7. ^ "Sports Group International, Inc. Announces The Acquisition Of Frullati Cafe & Bakery". The Franchise Mall. May 26, 1999.
  8. ^ "Sports Group International Inc. announces name change". Phoenix Business Journal. January 22, 2001.
  9. ^ "Franchisor brings Ranch 1 to the Valley". Phoenix Business Journal. June 9, 2002.
  10. ^ "Cold Stone Creamery's entertainment helps build global business". azcentral. October 1, 2014. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Friedman, Lindsay (May 25, 2016). "Franchise of the Day: Enjoy This Beachy Franchise That Even Surfer Dudes Love". Entrepreneur. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Quebec fast-food company to buy Scottsdale-based Cold Stone Creamery parent Kahala Brands in $300M sale". Azcentral. May 25, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  13. ^ "Kahala, Cold Stone agree to merge". Phoenix Business Journal. May 11, 2007.
  14. ^ Paterik, Stephanie (May 11, 2007). "Kahala to merge with Cold Stone". Tucson Citizen.
  15. ^ Shepherd, Lauren (May 11, 2007). "Cold Stone Creamery, Kahala Join Forces". Washington Post.
  16. ^ Larson, Jane (April 25, 2008). "Former Cold Stone CEO joins iMemories". Arizona Republic.
  17. ^ "Ducey ousted by Kahala-Cold Stone". Nation's Restaurant News. September 18, 2007. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  18. ^ "Kahala-Cold Stone to Acquire Cereality Cereal Bar & Café". QSR Magazine. July 12, 2007.
  19. ^ "America's Taco Shop signs franchise deal with Kahala". Phoenix Business Journal. October 19, 2012.
  20. ^ Wiles, Russ (August 21, 2013). "Canadian investors buy stake in Scottsdale-based Kahala Corp". Arizona Republic.
  21. ^ "Kahala acquires Planet Smoothie and Tasti D-Lite brands". Phoenix Business Journal. June 3, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  22. ^ "Arizona company buys Planet Smoothie, Tasti D-Lite". Nashville Post. June 4, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  23. ^ Maze, Jonathan (November 3, 2015). "Kahala Brands buys Maui Wowi". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 2015-12-02. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  24. ^ Wallace, Alicia (November 3, 2015). "Kahala Brands buying Denver's Maui Wowi smoothie company". Denver Post.
  25. ^ a b Anderson, Caroline (November 15, 2017). "Owner of Counter Burger Chain Sold, Will Leave L.A." Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  26. ^ a b "The owner of Cold Stone Creamery Has Bought Pinkberry". Fortune. December 15, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  27. ^ "America's Taco Shop Shuts Down Central Phoenix Location". KJZZ. October 3, 2014. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  28. ^ a b c "MTY fait une acquisition de 300 M$". Le Journal de Montréal (in French). May 25, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  29. ^ Wood, D.J.; Group, Gale (2007). Companies and Their Brands. Gale Trade Names Directory. Gale Research. p. 1900. ISBN 978-0-7876-8965-0. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  30. ^ Kent, Jennifer (August 19, 1992). "Great Steak & Fry Chain Continues to Sizzle Rivals". Cincinnati Post. p. 6B. Alternate Link via NewsBank
  31. ^ Fasig, Lisa Biank (February 2, 2000). "Big Sky sold; one store closed". Cincinnati Enquirer.
  32. ^ "Big Sky sold; one store closed". Enquirer.Com. February 2, 2000. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  33. ^ Tucker, Randy (April 3, 2004). "Great Steak & Potato Co. sold". Cincinnati Enquirer.
  34. ^ "Kahala signs 30-restaurant deal with South Korean developer". Phoenix Business Journal. December 29, 2004.
  35. ^ a b c "Kahala Brands buys Maui Wowi". Nation's Restaurant News. November 3, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  36. ^ "Brands". Kahala Brands.
  37. ^ https://grabbagreen.com/us/

External links[edit]