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Aloha has new meaning at Maui Wowi

Couple brings island treats to south Franklin

Logan Patterson isn’t exactly an aficionado on coffee, but he says he knows his smoothies.

The Oakview Elementary student and his younger brother Carson frequent the Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies shop in Franklin’s Berry Farms. 

The boys say, hands down, it has become their preferred after-school snack stop.

With chilling temperatures setting in, one would surmise they might prefer hot chocolate, but the Patterson boys say they would rather opt for a cold blended sensation from Maui Wowi’s selection of fruit and veggie smoothies.

Asked to rate his favorite snack on a 1-to-10-scale and Logan doesn’t hesitate.

“I’d give them an 11,” he says, as his younger brother nods in agreement.

That’s music to Eric Rilko’s ears, as he and his wife, Holley, have spent the past several months delivering a new drink and snack concept to Franklin’s growing south side. 

Morning and afternoon commuters are finding out that a stop into Berry Farm’s town center may well be worth the slight detour off Lewisburg Pike.

However, it’s also possible that customers may find themselves lingering longer than expected after experiencing the supreme interior mix of friendly island attitude, tech-friendly table settings and great classic music — from Bob Dylan to Frank Sinatra.

The mix is part of Eric Rilko’s approach to life. It’s all about combining a spirit for customer service with a brand, in this case one begun decades ago by a Southern California native who Rilko says discovered healthy eating before it became hip.

Rilko found out about Maui Wowi’s franchise opportunities and the story of founder Jill Summerhays after some research. 

He had been a longtime O’Charley’s restaurant professional, trained in the culture that has segued nicely into operating his own independent shop.

The success of Rilko’s first venture has earned him the Maui Wowi Rookie Franchisee of the Year award, not bad for a newbie.

But it hasn’t necessarily been an easy start for the couple. Just weeks after opening, at 4020 Hughes Crossing in a cottage-style mixed-use center of Berry Farms, a major wreck on Interstate 65 impacted his business not just for a day, but for several weeks as traffic intensified along Lewisburg Pike and stressed commuters struggled to get around town.

Eric and Holley Rilko decided immediately to employ the island attitude and began offering free coffee at the drive-thru window in the days following the wreck.

Patrons were greeted with an “aloha” and smile, followed by a cup of one of the famed Maui Wowi coffees.

Eric Rilko’s enthusiasm for his new venture is second only to his knowledge of the diverse menu he offers customers.

He and his staff make a point to get to know everyone who stops in, even remembering their drink of choice.

“We have some regular customers who love it here because they actually live six months of the year in Hawaii,” he shared, adding that it is the unique mix of quality selections of high-end coffee and healthy treats and smoothies.

If handcrafted smoothies and specially made coffee is not what you crave, no problem; the variety of fresh-baked offerings are also well worth the visit to this upbeat store.

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