Max's Restaurant eyes November opening

COMING TO GUAM: Max's Restaurant is opening a branch at the Micronesia Mall, with an expected November launch. Image courtesy of Max's Restaurant

Popular Philippine food chain Max's Restaurant will train and hire dozens of employees in time for a target November opening at the Micronesia Mall on Guam, with plans to also open a branch on Saipan.

"We're very excited to open our first store in the Marianas, here on Guam, and to bring world-class Filipino cuisine and hospitality to the island that shares many cultural similarities with the Philippines," according to Eleanor Alinas, president of master franchise holder KI Group International.

Around 40 employees will be needed, she said. Job openings will be posted soon.

"We are looking to open during the last quarter of 2020, around November," Alinas told The Guam Daily Post.

The date could still change, depending on factors beyond their control, she said.

"An asset to the mall"

Max's Restaurant will be located on concourse 1 of the Micronesia Mall, occupying three spaces on the ground floor, said Phil Schrage, senior vice president of operation and leasing for Goodwind Development Corp., which owns the mall.

These three spaces used to house clothing store Lacoste, a small Vitamin World branch and a former chocolate store, he said.

"We're excited about Max's Restaurant choosing Micronesia Mall to open on Guam," Schrage said, noting that the mall and its location will have three markets, namely local residents, the military, and tourists when the industry reopens.

Max's Restaurant, he said, has "an excellent reputation and very strong following."

"They will certainly be an asset to the mall. We're doing everything we can to help them establish here on Guam. They're a very good tenant to have," Schrage said.

Max's Restaurant, he said, will have its own exterior entry and exit, so it can operate beyond mall hours.

Filipino brand with global presence

Word of Max's Restaurant opening its doors to Guam spread like wildfire on Friday night, when it launched its social media campaign. It's known for its fried chicken and other authentic Filipino cuisine.

Kay Lee, general manager of Philippine-based Max's Group Inc., on Monday provided more details about Max's Restaurant entry into the Guam market.

"As you may know, Max's Restaurant is one of the iconic Filipino brands with global presence. We operate more than 200 stores in the Philippines, 13 in the U.S., six in Canada, three in the United Arab Emirates, two in Qatar and one in Singapore," Lee said. "We are very excited to announce that we are opening the first store in Guam in 2020."

Lee is in charge of the international expansion of MGI's brands, including Max's Restaurant. Its other brands include Pancake House, Krispy Kreme and Yellow Cab Pizza Co.

Deal signed in 2018

She said MGI in 2018 signed a master deal for both Saipan and Guam, and they have been working together to open the first Max's Restaurant since then. 

The original plan was to open Saipan first as the master franchise partner has an existing business there, although MGI has been eyeing the Guam market at the same time because Guam is a bigger market for it, Lee said.

"Fortunately, we could get a great location in Micronesia Mall early this year, so we decided to take the opportunity to open Guam first," she said. "We will bring the same authentic Filipino food and Filipino hospitality that Max's Restaurant has been offering for 75 years across the world, and of course it includes 'Sarap to the Bones Max's Fried Chicken.'"

Max's Restaurant's announcement is welcome news for the Guam economy, which has seen its tourism suffer a major blow and more than 35,000 workers displaced, mostly in the hotel and restaurant industry.

Its Guam entry also comes more than a year after Philippine fast food giant Jollibee opened, also in the Micronesia Mall area, in April 2019.

The two restaurants will be within walking distance of each other, separated only by parking lots.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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