KAPAA — Kapaa Town is down a taco joint after Verde Kapaa decided not to renew its lease in the Kapaa Shopping Center and closed Saturday.
“Like anything else, the Kapaa location had a lifespan,” said owner Maris Manzano.
The Kapaa Verde was the first of the two Verde locations to open. It started in 2008 with five employees and sprang from Manzano’s desire to create sustainable, local and fresh Mexican food.
That “Eat Local” sign stayed up in the Kapaa Shopping Center for 10 years and became a go-to for locals and visitors alike.
“Kapaa’s hole-in-the-wall location witnessed a lot of milestones, both professionally and personally, between me, the staff and its loyal patrons,” Manzano said.
When the time came to renew the lease on the space, though, Manzano saw an opportunity to consolidate operations in Lihue — an option that was made even more attractive by being the parent of a rambunctious toddler.
“The combination of motherhood and running a sustainable business with food integrity have shifted my own priorities in ways that I did not expect,” Manzano said.
The Lihue location opened in the Safeway Shopping Center in September 2017, and the two locations together employed about 80 people — about 70 of those positions are at the Lihue location.
“Most of the Kapaa employees, with great skills under their belt, have moved on to better opportunities,” Manzano said.
On top of their burritos and tacos — made with Kauai beef, antibiotic and hormone-free chicken and pork and fresh seafood — Verde also slings salsa both at their restaurant and retailing at places like Foodland and Safeway.
The salsa won’t change and the menu at Lihue Verde isn’t going to change either, at least for now.
Looking forward in the near future, though, Manzano said the staff is gearing up for 2019 when they’ll start serving fajitas and things like Mexican street corn.
“Our goal is to expand wholesale distribution while raising my young family,” Manzano said. “I hope this Verde’s loyal customers will resonate well with this change and continue supporting Verde at our new, improved home in Lihue.”
Jessica Else, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org