Aunty Lilikoi expands with kitchen, retail space in downtown Waimea

So brisk is business at the Aunty Lilikoi products kitchen and store in Waimea that owner Lori Cardenas has to import passion fruit (liliko’i in Hawaiian) from Ecuador.

Aunty Lilikoi, specializing in passion-fruit products including jelly, mustard, butter, syrup and dressing, is truly a family-run business.

Cardenas is the new “Aunty Lilikoi,” having purchased the business just before the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001. Husband Tony Cardenas, affectionately known as “Uncle Lilikoi,” works with his wife to prepare and pour by hand into bottles the company’s signature products, including passion-fruit as well as pineapple, lemon and mango jellies, mustards, butters, syrups and dressings.

Her father Pat Medeiros manages a small retail shop located along Kaumuali’i Highway in Waimea, fronting the certified, commercial kitchen in the back of the shop.

New are lines of liliko’i teriyaki sauce and wasabi liliko’i mustard, and Lori Cardenas last week announced that work has begun on a line of liliko’i lotion, bath-gel and shampoo products as well.

“After over a year of leasing kitchen space by the hour, my husband and I took the plunge and put in a certified kitchen of our own,” she said.

Retail sales at the Waimea shop have been brisk, and are picking up, providing enough income to pay the rent, as she planned, she said.

“Most of my business is wholesale. I sell my products to a distributor, and they service the retailers,” she said. “Some of our major accounts are Longs, Big Save, and Hilo Hattie. Our retail division is a new facet to our business,” Lori Cardenas said.

Whalers General Store locations, ABC Discount Stores, Mango Mama’s Cafe and Banana Joe’s smoothie shop in Kilauea, Wrangler’s Steakhouse in Waimea, and other locations on the island carry Aunty Lilikoi products.

Through a distribution arrangement with Ron and Corinne Ellamar and their EC Sales & Marketing company, Aunty Likikoi products are also on shelves of Longs, Hilo Hattie, and other stores on O’ahu and the Big Island.

Lori Cardenas, who was a general manager of a T-shirt shop on Kaua’i for over five years, is an administrative assistant at Kikiaola Land Company in Waimea.

The Aunty Lilikoi retail store is open every day but Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call 338-1296 for more information. Products are available for ordering online at http://www.aunty lilikoi.com.

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