All in the Ohana
Hawaiian FEC a Modern Facility from a Family Steeped in Amusement History
by Matt Harding
On the western half of Hawaii’s Oahu island lies the city of Kapolei, one of the fastest growing communities in the state. Rock ’N Fun, an entertainment center that opened there in April 2017, has been growing right along with it.
It wasn’t built for the luxury or tourist markets either. It’s a local place where the whole Ohana comes together for big parties. While that’s the Hawaiian word for family, it means so much more than that – it’s extended family, good friends and close neighbors. It’s a place where the military community hangs out, and where Little League teams go to celebrate game-winning home runs.
“The community needed their very own place here,” said owner Linda Fernandez. “We like to involve ourselves in communities. In every store we have, we’re a part of the neighborhood.”
As you likely know, Fernandez also operates the Fun Factory FEC chain (in Hawaii and on the mainland), and her late husband Kane was the son of amusements pioneer E.K. Fernandez, who founded E.K. Fernandez Shows in 1903, well before Hawaii was even a U.S. state.
With Rock ’N Fun, she wanted to bring about a new concept that catered to youngsters, yes, but adults as well. “This facility blends together a whole package for the family to go,” she said. “The adults can be happy and see their children. They’re doing their thing and the kids are running around doing their thing.”
Some folks just come for lunch at the restaurant Johnny Rockets, which Fernandez previously partnered with on two Fun Factory locations in Hawaii. Others might head to Rock Bar to catch a sporting event.
The 7,500-sq.-ft. space has the Johnny Rockets right when patrons walk in, and the TV-filled bar is at the center of all the action with about 45 games filling the venue around it. And just because Rock ’N Fun has great food and beverage doesn’t mean those games are an afterthought. In fact, far from it. They make up about 55 percent of revenue, Fernandez said, attributing that to always keeping the latest and greatest on the floor.
“I think that describes almost every new game that’s available is in this store,” she noted. That includes video games, pushers and redemption/merchandiser units like Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride, Halo: Fireteam Raven, Jurassic Park Arcade, Nerf Arcade, Tomb Raider, Wizard of Oz, DC Super Heroes, Power Roll, Ticket Time, Whack N Win and Zombie Snatcher.”
Fernandez said redemption pieces and merchandisers take up 65 percent of the space, but are even more of a majority – it’s just that their video games are quite sizable pieces. “The space demands that,” she explained. “We couldn’t get another game in here if we had to.” There’s a large redemption area in the space as well.
Since the place was a total build out and a new concept, every detail was thought of. Games are rotated strategically, and everything has its purpose.
“We really like to vet the concept 100 percent, particularly in a new area,” Fernandez said, adding that there are opportunities for more Rock ’N Fun locations in the future. But at only two-and-a-half years old, she’s taking it slow.
For now, they’re focusing on enhancing what works and changing what doesn’t.
They have a lot of fun promotions around quirky holidays like National Hamburger Day and Space Invaders Day, plus more traditional bar stuff like green beer for St. Patrick’s Day. Rock ’N Fun is also a sports center of sorts. Lots of people gather there specifically to watch hockey, MMA and a variety of events.
No matter who it is or what it’s for, Rock ’N Fun is open for everybody. It’s no surprise that a family-focused business comes from the family about to celebrate an astonishing 117 years in the fun industry in January.
“E.K. Fernandez Shows is one of the few family businesses in Hawaii that’s in its third generation going to the fourth,” Fernandez noted. Meanwhile, Fun Factory opened two new locations this year – one a couple of months ago in the Los Angeles area (not too far from RePlay HQ). That business’s growth is all about the fun, too.
Changing with the times has been a key factor for Fernandez and her family businesses. With technology moving faster than ever, it’s integral to have a handle on how things are shifting.
“I think you just have to be ready and on what’s happening,” she said. “You have to realize people are changing how they entertain themselves. Whatever it is and however it manifests itself, we intend to be there.”