Since opening in 2015, Makai Island Grill has been proving its concept of Hawaiian barbecue in a fast casual setting, served up for guests in the line-service style made famous by restaurants like Chipotle and Subway, expanding to four locations in the Las Vegas Valley. It will soon open its fifth, this time in Centennial Hills.
“We’ve been able to tap into our customer base,” said owner Kawika Lawther, describing the chain’s expansion process in a phone call with What Now Las Vegas on Monday afternoon. “We’ve stayed close enough where people are familiar with that first location, but far enough that we don’t take customers away from our other stores.”
The chain’s menu applies the now-familiar choose-your-own process in which guests choose a size (Ono, Ono’er, and Ono’est, offering one, two, or three meat choices) and go: choose white or brown rice and your protein(s), with choices including Teriyaki Chicken, Kalua Pig, Chicken Katsu, Poke (Ahi Tuna), and more.
The Chicken Katsu and Teriyaki Chicken are the most popular, Lawther says, but Teriyaki Steak is his personal favorite.
The location for the new restaurant sits on Tropical Pkwy, not far from the intersection with Centennial Center Blvd, next to a Dotty’s Casino location, in a cluster of a retail and dining locations on the intersection’s western side. Its neighbors include My Pie Pizza, Ichi Ramen House, and Red Robin.
“We’re excited to expand,” Lawther said. “We think there may be a few more expansions in the valley.”