A Hawaii Kai farmers market popular for its gourmet and restaurant food offerings has shut down for the time being.
The Friends of Kaiser PTSA Farmer’s Market, held Tuesday afternoons in Kaiser High School’s parking lot, closed last week after a complaint was filed with the state Department of Education, said Justin Mew, the school’s principal.
Mew said the department issued a memo Aug. 25 to “cease and desist” operating the market, given the current state and city orders banning gatherings, he said. It was brought to his attention Friday, a day after the last farmers market.
Mew had been keeping a close eye on government orders.
“The city says open-air markets are essential, so I thought we were fine,” he said. “But this is school property. When I was told to cease and desist, I immediately called the PTSA.”
Mew said the memo leaves open the possibility of reopening the market, stating the directive stands until the situation changes.
The market recently drew attention when Colin Hazama, executive chef at the Royal Hawaiian, opened a booth to serve gourmet comfort food. Other vendors included Ruby Tuesday and restaurants from the Waikiki Yokocho food hall.
The 12-year-old market was a fundraiser for the school’s PTSA. Pre-pandemic, it had half-dozen vendors, but that number had climbed to more than 30.
Mew said it offered more than the essential service of selling food.
“It provided a place for the community to come out for fresh air and to see other human beings. It was not meant to be a social gathering,” he said. “There was something for everyone, food at all price levels. It helped the restaurants. It was a win-win situation for small businesses and our community and school.
“We will reopen as soon as we can.”
A Sunday farmers market at Mililani High School, operated by the Hawaii Farm Bureau, remains open.