Da Kitchen on Maui will serve its last dish of broke-da-mout’ food Saturday at its Kahului restaurant, the last of three locations forced to close this year. The owners hope to be back, though.
“It’s incomprehensible,” said co-owner Mariah Brown. “I cry all day long.”
Brown said she’s been overwhelmed by an outpouring of community feedback and thousands of messages from people in Hawaii and beyond, lamenting the shutdown. “Oh my God, it’s been humbling and honoring at the same time.”
After 22 years, Da Kitchen’s demise was attributed to fallout from the coronavirus that cut business by 70% to 80%.
Staff was cut from 91 to 15 over the last few weeks, after the group’s Kihei location closed July 6. An Oahu location in Moiliili closed in late February.
Brown and partner/chef Les Tomita opened their first restaurant in Kihei in 1998, followed by Kahului in 2000 and Oahu in 2010.
Da Kitchen was famous for huge portions of local favorites, including the best-selling Hawaiian plate, kalbi ribs, chicken katsu and deep-fried Spam, featured on the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern” in 2008.
Da Kitchen’s Facebook page has been inundated with messages of sadness and regret from past customers. Even Mayor Mike Victorino showed up, asking what he could do to help last week, according to one post.
The Kahului restaurant was supposed to close today, but the end date was put off until Saturday “for the love of the community,” Brown said.
“We’re definitely looking to reopen once tourists return and the economy is better. … There’s so much love and loyalty in Maui and Oahu.”