This Former Lingerie Company CEO Is Bringing Hawaiian Fast Casual to Texas

Tim Brasher, former CEO of La Perla, is teaming up with his son to open 10 Coconut's Fish Cafe locations.

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By Kate Taylor

Tim and Nathan Brasher
Tim and Nathan Brasher

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After serving as CEO of La Perla, a women's clothing company specializing in lingerie, Tim Brasher was looking for a business partner. He found one in his son, Nathan. Together, they teamed up to bring Coconut's Fish Café to Dallas. While Texan customers are more accustomed to Tex-Mex than Hawaiian fish tacos, the Brashers are hoping to change that, with plans to open up a total of 10 locations in the state. Here's what they've learned.

Name: Tim and Nathan Brasher

Franchise owned: Dallas, Texas.

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How long have you owned a franchise?

The Dallas location opened in December of 2014. The Plano location will open early March of 2015.

Why franchising?

We were not exploring business ownership opportunities when we made the decision to sign-on to open the first Coconut's Fish Cafe franchise location. Nonetheless, I have been interested in the restaurant business throughout the course of my career.

We had become introduced to the concept while living in Scottsdale. Later, we visited the original location in Hawaii. From day one, we were hooked on the fresh fish, tropical vibes and aloha spirit emanating throughout the restaurant. Coconut's Fish Cafe was our little slice of paradise.

When we learned the company was offering franchise opportunities, it was a no-brainer. We signed on to open the brand's first franchise location in Dallas. Looking ahead, we plan to open 10 plus locations throughout Texas.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Prior to signing-on with Coconut's Fish Cafe, I had retired from a successful corporate career in business management and development for several consumer products companies. Most recently, I served as the CEO of La Perla, a luxury Italian women's clothing company specializing in lingerie. Additionally, I also held leadership positions with Jurlique, an Australian-based company offering an exclusive line of natural skin care products.

Nathan, my son and business partner, was working in the marketing and communications department for Southwest Airlines. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University with a bachelor's degree in communications and sports broadcasting.

Together, we are looking to build Coconut's Fish Cafe into a legacy business that we can pass down for generations.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

Coconut's Fish Cafe has major potential in the marketplace. For one, the food is a higher quality than you typically encounter in a fast casual environment. The food is fresh, healthy and eco-friendly. Coconut's Fish Cafe only uses wild-caught fish that are found in abundance around the world to combat overfishing. We recycle our oil to maximize sustainability.

In addition to appealing to today's consumer, I was attracted to the authenticity of the brand. Coconut's Fish Cafe was not born out of a business proposition, but a deep passion for community, family and preserving Hawaiian heritage and traditions. We wanted to be involved in helping the company grow throughout the mainland.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

The franchise fee is $60,000. The full restaurant build-out ranges between $350,000 and $700,000.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

I have extensive experience in demographic profiling, market analysis and research, so I did much of my own research.

We thought there was tremendous upside to being the brand's first franchisee. We see this as an opportunity to influence the evolution of the company as it continues to grow throughout the mainland.

Related: How a Customer and a Restauranteur Teamed Up to Bring Amsterdam Falafelshop to Boston

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

Finding the right real estate has proven challenging. In the fast casual sector, securing a-ranked real estate between 2,500 to 3,500 square feet is highly competitive. We eventually secured real estate for both of our restaurants but the process has been rigorous.

The other challenge has been the educational hurdle we have had to overcome with the general consumer. To Texans, our cuisine is unfamiliar. Communities throughout Dallas and Plano are more accustom to tacos with a southwestern flare. Coconut's Fish Cafe's authentic Hawaiian fresh fish tacos are a new experience. Nonetheless, once newbies taste our menu selection, they continue to come back for more.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

I have two key pieces of advice for those exploring franchise opportunities. For one, I would advise prospective franchisees to do their own research. It is essential to understand how the concept operates in the marketplace before joining the system.

Secondly, I would encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to find a concept that they are passionate about. In order for a business to succeed, the owner needs to fundamentally believe in the product or service that is being sold.

My son and I are brand advocates in every sense of the word. We care deeply about the growth and continued success of Coconut's Fish Cafe.

What's next for you and your business?

There is so much momentum behind the brand as we head into the second quarter.

We are opening a new franchise location in Plano in the next several weeks. Looking ahead, we plan to open additional units throughout Dallas and Austin.

We are excited for the brand to continue expanding into new communities throughout the country in the months and years to come.

Related: Why This Franchisee Does His Research in Las Vegas

Kate Taylor


Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor. 

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