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‘Cupcake Wars’-winning shop ready to grow with new owner

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    Marie Lau, the owner of Hokulani Bake Shop, is using her marketing degree to expand the business.

Hokulani Bake Shop is under new management and has a new website, but bakes the same cookies, wedding cakes, and most importantly, the artisanal cupcakes that won the company a “Cupcake Wars” competition on Food Network in 2012.

Marie Lau, who has owned the cupcakery since January, said she has kept all the company’s recipes. The bakery still uses only butter, no margarine, and the cupcakes contain no transfats or hydrogenated vegetable oil.

The most-popular cupcake flavors are red velvet, lilikoi and strawberry- guava, which is a popular wedding cake.

Lau was working with the Hawaii Small Business Development Center when the opportunity to buy Hokulani came about, and six months later, the bakery was hers.

Under its founders, Tushar and Ana Dubey, Hokulani had grown to four locations, but leases for the Pearlridge and Waikiki locations were allowed to expire.

The flagship shop and bakery at Waterfront Plaza (formerly Restaurant Row) and the Windward Mall shop in Kaneohe remain open.

Asked if baking was in her background, she said, “I like to say I’m a home baker.”

What is in her background is work experience that comes from being a part of the family that owns and operates Chun Wah Kam, a three-generation Chinese restaurant with multiple locations.

She learned valuable lessons working in the family business, and then, “It was my uncle who said, ‘Go get beat up, work elsewhere.’”

So she did — at The Paperie at Kahala Mall, then at Cinnamon Girl, where she worked her way up to store manager in Las Vegas’ Fashion Show Mall. She also got a marketing degree.

Hence, the Hokulani Bake Shop website now has online ordering options (, so you can order cupcakes for immediate pickup to sate an urgent need, or order in advance for an office function or other occasion.

Wedding cakes are not just multiple tiers of cupcakes, though that is an option. Traditional or contemporary cakes also are available in a rainbow of flavors.

Hokulani started out not as a cupcake company, but as a cookie bakery, and Lau still offers cookies shaped and decorated in themes such as Pokemon poke balls and dinosaurs for kids’ parties, as well as cookies with Hawaii motifs such as aloha-print shirts, dolphins, honu and lei.

Lau compares the purchase of Hokulani Bake Shop to adopting a baby, one that she and her staff of 17 retained employees are working to nurture.

“I want to grow it,” she said.

Send restaurant news and notes to or call 529-4303. Follow her on Twitter @eriKaengle

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