The COVID-19 pandemic has sent many segments of the economy into a tailspin, but not the global cocoa and chocolate market. Fortune Business Insights says sales are expected to see exponential growth of an eye-popping $67.22 billion by 2025, owing to increasing demand for specialty and premium chocolates.
I’m not the least bit surprised, considering chocolate is a proven stress-buster — science! — and these are incredibly stressful times.
You can get a delicious dose of stress relief at Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate Factory’s retail store in Lahaina, which just reopened and can be visited from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Come in to delight in some premium chocolate or enjoy a curated chocolate tasting in the upstairs, 2,000-square-foot, open-air pavilion overlooking Lahaina and the ocean beyond.
“We are even offering free tastings for keiki. We just ask that you make a reservation with us beforehand through our website (mauichocolate.com). Curated tastings are at 10 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays,” said owner Gunars Valkirs.
Find Valkirs’ chocolate factory at 78 Ulupono St.
Surfing Goat Dairy is now open for business and tours. For those who haven’t seen it, the farm is worth the drive Upcountry. Drop by from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, with tours available Saturdays only from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The dairy’s cheese board baskets make fun gifts and are filled with a wedge of Spanish manchego, a 4-ounce French Dream goat cheese “biscuit,” jars of feta cheese and Kalamata olives, a surfboard-shaped bamboo cutting board and a box of crackers ($65).
Bring the keiki along for a taste of farm life during the Evening Chore & Milking Tour ($15), when they can milk the goats and tuck them into bed for the night. Surfing Goat is in lower Kula at 3651 Omaopio Road. For more details, visit surfinggoatdairy.com or call 878-2870.
BIERGARTEN IS BYOB
In Central Maui, Brigit & Bernard’s Garden Cafe opened last week for sit-down dinner only from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and it continues takeout.
“Thank goodness the wait is over and hopefully will stay that way,” said owner-chef Bernard Weber. “When I switched from a dine-in establishment to a takeout, it was anything but easy. It’s not efficient or profitable, and it’s a complete different setup. I thank all my customers that supported me in the last three months and apologize that the food was not quite the same as if you can enjoy it again in our outdoor-seating ‘biergarten.’”
Speaking of the biergarten, the cafe’s German draft beer supply line was one of the victims of the pandemic, and Weber does not know yet when it will be back on tap. So right now you may BYOB.
“Our menu is the same as before, but some items may not always be available. We are learning as we go, and now we will be serving only customers with reservations and only groups of up to six people. That is the only way to control the flow in the restaurant. We encourage you to preorder your meals if possible. So, if you’ve had enough pizza and packaged meals and maybe are tired of your own cooking skills, and are looking for some rouladen, rack of lamb, fresh fish, salads, shrimp Dijon and bratwurst platters with roesti potatoes, we have all that here.”
Brigit & Bernard’s asks customers to wear face masks, except when seated, and to keep tables as they are because “they are exactly measured in order to comply with the current guidelines,” said Weber.
“We noticed that every customer has some incredible story from the last three months,” he added. “There really is no better place than to do that with your friend over a nice tasty meal and your favorite ice-cold beverage. I welcome you all back and aloooohaaa. We also hope to open lunch in-house dining sometime in July.”
FIND FRESHNESS IN KIHEI
While Fork & Salad’s Kahului outlet near Target has been up and running again since May 4, its sister restaurant in Kihei just opened last week after being closed since mid-March.
“Kihei is Fork & Salad’s first home, where we proudly launched on Maui in July 2016,” explained chef/co-owner Travis Morrin. “We are so happy to once again serve our loyal south side customers who have been so patient and understanding during these uncertain times.”
Fresh, new signature items include Papaya Dream Salad and Buddha Grain Bowl, and a house-made dressing sourced from Maui-grown papaya. “Supporting local agriculture is both a passion and a mission for us,” added Morrin. “With that in mind, we’re proud to unveil the Kumu Farms Papaya Seed Dressing and hope folks will give it a try in both Kihei and Kahului.”
The county’s Office of Economic Development has refreshed its kamaainafirst.com website to better showcase the various offers and/or discounts now being offered by Maui County businesses to boost the local economy.
More than 440 offers are listed on services, products, staycations, experiences and meals, from Tante’s Maalaea at the Harbor Shops to Kobe Japanese Steak House in Lahaina. Get busy, because many of the deals expire in a couple of days. You can also check for updates on the “Kamaaina First” Facebook group, which has over 8,800 members.
Speaking of kamaaina deals, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay and its sister property, Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort at Koele, located in the cool uplands, will reopen Wednesday to Hawaii residents.
Book a staycation by Aug. 31 for travel by Jan. 4 and you will get a free round-trip flight on Lanai Air along with 20% discounts on bookings, golf and other activities, plus resort credits. For more details on the Manele Bay resort, call 800-321-4666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For Sensei Lanai, call 800-505-2624.
Maui Arts & Cultural Center is presenting its annual Ki Ho‘alu Guitar Festival in virtual concert form today from 1 to 4 p.m. on its Facebook page and YouTube. The tribute to the late legendary performer Willie K will feature performers including LT Smooth and Brother Noland.