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David Taboniar is back to work

Pono Cleaners has been closed for two years, said Ken Kubota of Pono Coffee &Bakery.

“The space has been empty, too,” Kubota said. “My brother said if we wanted to open something we should go for it.”

That was the start of Pono Coffee &Bakery, which opened its doors Thursday to an eager, enthusiastic crowd adjacent to Pono Market on Kuhio Highway in downtown Kapa‘a.

“This is perfect,” said Loke Rivera, a customer patronizing the new shop Friday. “I got my Pono Market package, and now we got drinks and some pastries.”

The shop is open six days a week, Wednesday through Monday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., with provisions for social-distancing seating for couples. Social distancing also applies for those waiting in line to place orders, and face masks are required for entry.

“I don’t know,” said Christian Nacapuy, waiting on his order of drinks. “I’ve been here a couple of times since they opened. This looks like a new place to hang out.”

Joining the offering of coffee and a full line of specialty coffee drinks, the shop also offers a line of baked goods from the ovens manned by David Taboniar, the former owner of Hanalima Bakery.

“David’s been retired from the Kaua‘i Fire Department for two years now,” Kubota said. “When I hooked up with him, he told me he still likes to bake. They have bakeries all over, so I told him to just bake stuff he likes to make and can do well.”

The result is a line of baked goods that rekindle memories of the original Hanalima Bakery, including flying saucers, the krab roll, malasadas and scones that have the unmistakable flavor and texture of the Puhi bakery. The shop also offers a limited selection of ice cream, including the unique ice cream sandwich. “An aging barista and a retired fireman,” Kubota said of the pair. “What a combination. Then the COVID virus hit. But what are we going to do? All we can do is do what we can. We’re not going to let the COVID stop us. We are so fortunate that our community comes to support us. We like the visitors, too, but we gotta take care of the community.”

The flow of customers keep the showcases busy as Taboniar and his assistant, Emily Pelous, keep cranking out the goods.

“He’s been busy since we opened,” Kubota said. “He came in at 2 a.m. on Thursday to just start baking. He’s not retired now. He’s back to work.”
Source: The Garden Island

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