The vacant fast-food restaurant next to the Petro Express on the Sterling Highway has given rise to salivations on what the next occupants will offer, with speculations by everyone from Taco Bell hopefuls to KFC cravers.
Well, forget the Burrito Supreme or extra crispy wings. Something purporting to be a little better for the cholesterol level is coming to town.
Established by brothers Jeff, Bret and Rick Taylor, a Hogi Yogi franchise is in the works for the popular Homer spot.
“We’re shooting for opening the Homer restaurant the first or second week in June,” Jeff Taylor said from Utah. “I’m driving up the AlCan next week bringing a lot of equipment we have here in Utah.”
The location is ideal, made more so because “we don’t have to construct anything,” he said. He plans on some interior work, set to begin in mid-May.
“We grew up in Alaska in the ‘80s — in Willow — and want to get back up there to live,” Taylor said. “We saw those stores vacant on the highway and thought, ‘What a great opportunity.’”
Taylor and his two brothers ran a hotel for 15 years in Bryce Canyon — just north of the Grand Canyon — until selling out last year. They bought into two Hogi Yogi franchises in Utah two years prior and said they saw that the menu held appeal for a broad spectrum of people. Homer is the first Alaska location for a Hogi, with more hopefully in the plans for the next decade, Taylor said.
The Hogi Yogi food line was conceived in 1989, by Utah resident Mike Clayton, who said he recognized the market potential of two popular food segments in the fast food industry: submarine (hoagie) sandwiches and frozen yogurt. Clayton is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a Masters in Accounting and had worked for five years at an accounting firm. According to the company Web site, Clayton wanted to go into the fast-food industry, but also wanted to contribute a healthy line of foods.
“He had a friend whose father had invented a dessert machine that used natural frozen yogurt without adding air or sugar. The results tasted like ice cream and had the texture and appearance of ice cream, but had the nutritional value of frozen yogurt. Mike and a few investors went through hundreds of names until one Sunday at the family dinner table, someone made a joke about his ‘hogis and yogis,’ and the name stuck,” the Web site reads.
The first restaurant was built in the Northern Utah town of Logan and franchising started in 1993. Currently, there are more than 70 restaurants in Utah, California, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Texas and North Dakota.
Hogi sandwiches sell for around $5 each, with rice bowl dishes at $7 and yogurt smoothies around $3 or $4. The rice bowls include choices of orange chicken, Kalua pork, curry, broccoli beef, veggie, Gyoza (potstickers) and Yakisoba bowls.
Taylor said the company will be looking to hire approximately 15 people, including management personnel. Wages will range from $8.50 an hour to approximately $35,000 annually for managers, he said.
Taylor is also looking to buy a home in town for his family, including five children and one on the way.
“I’ve always loved Homer, and we’re looking forward to moving there,” he said. “We hope to add good things to the community. It will be good to get back to Alaska.”
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