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Persevering through the pandemic

KILAUEA — A crossover offering local favorites and gourmet cuisine at a market in the middle of a Kilauea neighborhood, Kilauea Market + Cafe was constructed in 2016 and opened in September 2019.

The facility consists of 14,000 square feet offering gourmet grab-and-go sandwiches, freshly made ahi poke bowls, fresh groceries and much more, in the new Ahuimanu center of Kilauea.

“I think we had an opportunity because there was the development that was going in,” said Keoni Chang, vice president of sales and operations of Kalama Beach Corporation, parent company of the store.

“As we looked around the community, we thought that there’s a need for a grocery experience in Kilauea. We thought that the community could be served well by having a nice, compact grocery environment, but also one that had a cafe, and we thought that was a nice addition to a shopping (center),” he said.

KBC is owned by the Sullivan Family of Companies that also bought Ishihara Market in Waimea in 2018, and owns and operates the Princeville Foodland store.

Like many businesses on Kaua‘i, the Kilauea market faced some obstacles during the pandemic as they tried to protect their 45 employees during a time of uncertainty.

“I think the challenge was really how do we provide essential services to the community and keep our employees and the community safe at the same time,” said Chang.

“So we did a whole lot of work of really understanding what protocols need to happen. And we’ve instituted wellness checks for employees and the vendors when they come into the stores.”

And they implemented a lot of safety protocols that became standard, including requiring masks, offering hand sanitizers and establishing occupancy limits.

Chang further shared his thoughts of Kaua‘i reopening for trans-Pacific travelers in April.

“It’s been really great to see. We see really good sales,” Chang said. “I think it’s two things. Definitely, visitor traffic is up. But I also think that there is a general sentiment that things are opening up and there is some sense of more normalization. So even locals, I think, they’re out more. People are just in general a lot more. It was a rising tide on both sides — visitors and locals.”

Residents and tourists who want to feel like they are on O‘ahu should walk into the market and experience it for themselves, he said. They will enjoy shopping, eating or drinking in a fresh market.

“We designed the market — the market that has a nice cross-section of local items, conventional grocery and natural and organic product,” Chang said.

“It’s the kind of story that, you know, if you don’t, you’re not going to make the rounds to Princeville or Waipouli, you can come to the store and do all of your shopping. We really pride ourselves in making sure that we have great quality products and seafood, and a really good selection of grocery. And we have a really nice selection of beer, wine and spirits.”


Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or
Source: The Garden Island

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