Ever since Gov. David Ige directed that social gatherings of more than 10 people be canceled, bars and clubs closed and restaurants limited to takeout or drive-thru only, the world as Maui knew it changed.
My heart goes out to all those in the restaurant and hospitality industry, the hardest-hit sector of Maui’s businesses so far. From busers to hostesses, bartenders to servers, chefs to line cooks, restaurant owners to maintenance staff, lounge singers to sommeliers, dishwashers to valets, thousands of Maui residents are now without the means to earn an income and support their families.
The Cafe O’Lei family of restaurants Monday informed its approximate 250 staffers at Cafe O’Lei at the Dunes, Cafe O’Lei Kihei and ‘Ami ‘Ami and Kamaole Pool Café at Maui Coast Hotel in Kihei that they would close for dine-in.
“We did an orderly closure. Some people were crying. The bottom line is, we support the governor, and the faster we follow directions, the quicker life gets back to normal,” said CEO Daniel Lang. “We are being as creative as possible to keep as many people as we can employed.”
Cafe O’Lei at the Dunes has invested in a food truck for parking lot curbside pickup. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Limited favorites are available, such as Manoa lettuce wraps, Caesar salads, mac nut chicken, crab clubs, burgers and fish specials, from blackened mahimahi to fresh catch in lemon-caper beurre blanc.
Ditto for Cafe O’Lei Kihei. ‘Ami ‘Ami hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with breakfast sandwiches, mac nut pancakes, plate lunches and more. For more details, call the Dunes at 877-0073.
Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia was also one of Maui’s first establishments to step up to close temporarily during the crisis, even before Gov. Ige sent out his statewide directive.
“I believe our health, the health of our loves ones and community must come first,” said Managing Partner Jonathan Herman. “I wish you all peace, love and health through this time. Charley’s will re-open! I look forward to raising a glass with you after all of this and I will see you on the dance floor!”
A Saigon Cafe in Wailuku also jumped ahead of the curve to suspend dine-in service last weekend.
“Rest assured, A Saigon Cafe is NOT closed for business,” says owner Jennifer Nguyen. “The health and safety of our employees and patrons is our primary concern. Therefore, we will continue to offer our full menu on a takeout basis.”
A Saigon Cafe’s award-winning offerings are available via to-go phone orders. Dishes range from Garden Party shrimp to Vietnamese burritos to aromatic pho, a satisfying soup to make you feel better. For full menu, visit asaigoncafe.com or call 243-9560.
HAVE IT DELIVERED
Speaking of delivery services, Hopper Maui is on a roll from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily in Central Maui, with possible service to Paia depending upon demand. Deliveries in South Maui from Maalaea to Makena run from noon to 9 p.m. daily.
“Our doors are open for more partners daily,” said owner Jacques Perwin. “We want to help everyone get through this, and so we’ve taken on more employees under our flag during recent restaurant closures. I’ve spoken to our partners yesterday. They are taking more precautions, getting more to-go containers, and they want to make sure that the public knows that. I’m hiring a whole bunch of people today, including Uber and taxi drivers and many others who are getting laid off.”
Hopper Maui partners include Da Kitchen, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, Miso Phat, Pizza Madness, Maui Thai Bistro, Maui Burgers, Kamana Kitchen, Da Nani Pirates and Kraken Coffee, with more restaurants coming aboard daily.
“A good 95% order online,” continued Perwin. “Normally you pay with a credit card and put the tip on the card. Drivers text you when they leave the restaurant. They can place the food outside by the door. Take a picture of your ID and we’ll leave the food anywhere you want. Our drivers wear gloves and we offer them hand sanitizers.”
There is a $4.95 delivery fee and a per-mile fee from the restaurant. First-time users can use the code “local ” for free delivery. For a list of restaurants, visit hoppermaui.com or call 214-6171.
Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu closed Friday until further notice. One of the Valley Isle’s top tourist attractions, MTP features The Mill House restaurant, the Tropical Express tram tour, the Rolling Mill, Maui Chef’s Table fine-dining restaurant and the Mill House Roasting Co. coffeehouse.
Honu Seafood & Pizza and Frida’s Mexican Beach House are now serving takeout only. Owners Mark and Judy Ellman had to tell 140 employees the bad news.
“This is unprecedented times. The virus has toppled normalcy. I don’t know if our customers will venture out for to-go food; that remains to be seen. Judy and I are heartbroken to be in this position. We are planning to reopen when it is safe for us to do so.”
Nalu’s South Shore Grill in Kihei suspended dine-in operations Thursday. It now offers curbside pickup and free deliveries to South side residents. Other parts of the island pay a nominal delivery charge.
“Keeping our community healthy and safe has always been a major goal to everyone at Nalu’s and will continue to be our focus as we navigate though these next challenging months,” said owner Ron Panzo.
Brigit & Bernard’s Garden Cafe in Kahului closed for dine-in on Monday; however, it is offering takeout and delivery for orders of $100 or more placed 24 hours in advance. As a protective measure, owner Bernard Weber requests that you do so by phone. For now there will be no more clanking of steins in the beer garden. Rather, you can enjoy Euro fare of chicken cordon bleu, pork wiener schnitzel and beef rouladen with spaetzle and braised red cabbage at home. If you don’t need plastic utensils, tell the staff. Visit brigitandbernards.com or call 877-6000.
At The Shops at Wailea, takeout orders and curbside pickup is available from Longhi’s (call 891-8883), with delivery via Door Dash. Lineage Maui (879-8800) offers takeout from 4 to 8 p.m. daily. And get a 25% discount on takeout orders of $75 or more by phone at Ruth’s Chris (874-8880) through May 11.
At Lahaina Gateway, grab takeout from Teddy’s Bigger Burgers (661-9111) or give Moku Roots a call (214-5106) for curbside pickup of pre-prepped meals and menu orders from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Delivery service is available through 808 Pickups.
SAY IT ISN’T SO
Looks like you’ll have to shelter in place without the comfort of Komoda Bakery’s famed cream puffs and doughnut sticks. The iconic Makawao bakery closed today, with plans to reopen April 14. Owners Calvin, Betty and Michele Shibuya told me they made the disheartening decision late Thursday. “We have many older workers and we cannot put their health or our community’s health at risk. We want to do our part to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate everyone’s support and understanding and wish everyone good health,” they said in an email.
Meanwhile, the monthlong Localicious promotion that benefits ag education via designated dishes at 200 restaurants statewide is getting hit like a tsunami smacking the shoreline. But it’s not a complete washout.
“Order takeout or delivery,” said Denise Yamaguchi, CEO of Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, which supports the promotional campaign. “Ordering takeout gives our restaurants business and keeps everyone safe, healthy and well fed.” For a list of Localicious restaurants offering to-go, curbside pickup or delivery, check hawaiiagfoundation.org.
And remember, “Tipping is not a town in China.”
“Tip for takeout and delivery, if you can afford it,” added Yamaguchi. “Tipped workers are some of the first to suffer in times of economic distress and often don’t have paid leave.”