Food & Drink

Something fresh has arrived on Bradenton’s restaurant scene. It’s the first of its kind

You’ll probably be hearing a lot about Mahana Fresh.

The new company opened its first restaurant this month at 4808 14th St. W.. Several more franchises are in the works in Florida and elsewhere in the United States.

“This is location No. 1,” said chief executive officer Dave Wood, who founded the company with president John Thomas.

Franchise owners of the healthy eating restaurant are Brad Robinson, a Bradenton native and 1998 graduate of Manatee High School, and Mike Kosmowski, a 2008 graduate of Port Charlotte High School.

“People are looking for healthy choices. We are not a health-food restaurant, but we offer healthy choices,” Wood said. “We have no fryers or microwaves here and we never will.”

The restaurant offers three bowl sizes — Big Mahana, Mahana and Lil Mahana — and a variety of bases, veggies and proteins, as well as sauces and add-ons. All are gluten and antibiotic-free.

Bases include Basmati rice blend, coconut rice, sweet potato noodles, spinach salad and more. Among the veggie selections are buffalo cauliflower, garlicky cilantro green beans, sesame ginger broccoli and roasted mushrooms. Protein choices include chicken, steak, tuna and tofu.

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Gathered at the Bradenton Mahana Fresh restaurant this week were, from left, Brad Robinson, John Thomas, Dave Wood, and Mike Kosmowski. Robinson and Kosmowski are franchise owners. Wood and Thomas are founders of the company. James A. Jones Jr. jajones1@bradenton.com

Mahana is Hawaiian for “like the sun” and reflects the belief that each day is filled with warmth, possibilities and energy.

Wood retired to Florida after being a Domino’s Pizza franchise owner in northern Virginia for 35 years.

Growing tired of retirement, he founded the Firenza Pizza chain with Dave Baer. There are about 20 Firenza locations around the country.

In February, Wood and Thomas, the former CEO of QVC in Japan, a television shopping network, began making plans for Mahana Fresh.

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Brooklyn Eliseo serves up a freshly made bowl at Mahana Fresh, 4808 14th St. W. James A. Jones Jr. jajones1@bradenton.com

“John comes from the big corporate business world. I am the smaller entrepreneur. We have complementary skills,” Wood said.

“We have sold about 100 locations,” Wood said.

Future Florida locations for Mahana Fresh include Tampa, Brandon, Orlando and West Palm Beach. Other locations planned include Charlotte, N.C.; Charlottesville, Va.; Austin, Texas; Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Denver.

Franchise owners Robinson and Kosmowski have extensive restaurant management experience, most recently at Buffalo Wild Wings.

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Hawaiian grilled steak, teriyaki chicken with sweet potato noodles, sesame ginger broccoli, kale crunch salad, and roasted mushrooms are among the offerings at Mahana Fresh, 4808 14th St. W. provided photo by Gary Jordan

“They were looking for a franchise. A franchise consultant that we know introduced us,” Wood said.

The Mahana Fresh concept appealed to Robinson and Kosmowski.

“The market is trending to healthy food choices. The demand is here,” Kosmowski said.

Guests can drop in for a quick bite at Mahana Fresh or can linger with WiFi or the televisions on the deck.

“We are all about choices,’” Wood said.

Mahana Fresh also offers large- and small-platter catering options.

The restaurant, located in extensively renovated space formerly occupied by Fuzzy’s Tacos, has seating for 100 and is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week.

Look for an upbeat experience at Mahana Fresh, which is also the training ground for the staffs of other Mahana franchises coming soon.

“Here, freshness isn’t just a saying, it’s a commitment. A sincere belief that a good mood begins with good food. And everybody has a place at the table,” the company says on its website.

For more information, visit mahanafresh.com or call 941-216-3890.

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