The sales have set up Kona and STK for future success, with a development pipeline that’s stronger than any other point in company history. In 2022, there are nine openings planned, including two company-owned STK stores in Dallas and San Francisco; a managed STK in London; three corporate Kona units in Riverton, Utah; Columbus, Ohio; and Paradise Valley, Arizona; and three licensed ghost kitchens in partnership with REEF Kitchens.
The ONE Group seeks 40-50 percent ROI for new restaurants. The addressable market is at least 400 outlets, including 200 STK locations globally and at least 200 Kona stores in the U.S. At the end of Q1, STK had 22 restaurants and Kona had 24.
Hilario described the current development environment as “more dynamic,” with the company stretching its lead times on equipment from six months to nine to 12 months. However, it’s nothing that’s significantly impacted the timing of openings.
“In the past, you could go to equipment distributors and pick up four, five pieces relatively quick,” the CEO said. “Now there's things such as not enough chips, so you get a lot of people pushing back on equipment. We have to be flexible on some specs relative to kitchen equipment. But again, it's all about project management and being sure that you get ahead of the planning.”
As for real estate, Hilario has seen great availability in malls housed in big markets. Because of all the closures, the executive said there’s flexibility in choosing the best pieces of land. It’s one of the better real estate markets he’s seen, and The ONE Group is receiving “fantastic deals” from landlords as a result.
“But again, I think that's just a testimony to the success of the brand, so people like to get STKs and Kona Grills and want to get them in their projects because of the average volume and the fact that we have exciting programs like our happy hour programs and our brunch program,” Hilario said. “So I would say that I'm very excited about the go-forward development plans with the only caveat is that we have to be more proactive. And we have to have more lead time and adjust our project time lines for that.”
Companywide, revenues increased 46.9 percent to $74.2 million, exceeding the high end of previous guidance by $4 million. Restaurant operating profit grew 40.8 percent year-over-year to $13 million, and adjusted EBITDA lifted 65.5 percent to $10.8 million.