Mo’ Bettahs Hawaiian Style Food announced plans to enter the Kansas City market more than a year ago.
Its first area restaurant — and its first in Kansas — opened Thursday in a former KFC at 7006 W. 75th St. in Overland Park, just east of Metcalf Avenue near Price Chopper.
It was a “Friends & Ohana” day, offering a limited menu of free food to introduce area residents to the concept. It will be open again for free food from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday for dining in or drive-thru.
Regular hours were set to begin Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It is closed Sundays.
Customers choose their protein: steak or chicken teriyaki; kalua pig (slow roasted for 10 hours); pulehu chicken (boneless chicken thigh, grilled and seasoned with black pepper, garlic and sea salt); katsu chicken (boneless chicken thigh, breaded and deep-fried); or shrimp tempura.
Prices start at $9.59 for two proteins. Family packs for four people for $38.99 or six people for $58.99, and it offers catering.
It also has P.O.G. juice (passion fruit, orange and guava juices).
The company is based in Utah and the founders — brothers Kimo and Kalani Mack — were in town for the opening, along with CEO Rob Ertmann.
“There’s a lack of variety in the Midwest in general, and when you think of where to go, Kansas City is the first that comes up,” Ertmann said. “We grill everything over an open flame and make it the way our founders grew up with back on Oahu.”
Mo’ Bettahs also are scheduled to open at 11990 S. Strang Line Road in Olathe, on Sept. 2; 806 N.W. Missouri 7, Blue Springs, on Sept. 9; and 1316 W. Kansas St., Liberty, on Sept. 30.
“And we’re looking all over the market — Lee’s Summit, Raytown, maybe another in Overland Park,” Ertmann said.
The first Mo’ Bettahs opened in Utah in 2008 and it now has 33 restaurants.
It will be a competitor to Kansas City-based Hawaiian Bros Island Grill, which was founded by brothers who grew up in Oregon. It is rapidly expanding here and elsewhere.
Hawaiian Bros recently opened a to-go only operation just across 75th street from the new Mo’ Bettahs. It also opened near the planned Mo’ Bettahs in Blue Springs and has a building permit for a location at 11928 S. Strang Line Road in Olathe..
“The pandemic slowed us getting out here and they certainly have grown during the pandemic from what I’ve seen and made us more aware that they were here,” Ertmann said. “If they want to open locations near us, I find that a form of flattery. We’re all here to educate folks and share our version of Hawaiian food.”
Hawaiian Bros previously declined to comment on the Mo’ Bettahs competition and couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.