Suzie rules at Hanalei breakfast

HANALEI — Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste may have enjoyed some preferential treatment, but all diners, those who chose to eat in and those who carried their meals away, were treated to bountiful-sized breakfasts at the Hanalei School cafeteria yesterday.

“They always make me special banana pan-cakes,” Kaua’i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste said while waiting at the end of the serving line.

Baptiste was waiting for Gary Pacheco to finish the two oversized pancakes that turned golden at the end of the griddle in the Hanalei School cafeteria yesterday.

“The best way to enjoy these is hot off the grill,” Pacheco smiled as he deftly flipped the pair of pancakes.

Pacheco has been doing the pancakes along with Wayne Tanji for a long time, as they and other members of the North Shore Lions Club hosted their 23rd Annual Pancake Breakfast.

“I asked them for one, and they gave me two,” said Suzie Tasaka, Hanalei School cafeteria manager, as she kept an eye on the hectic flow of activity inside the cafeteria.

Throughout the morning, Tasaka would occasionally stop the flow of pancakes off the griddles in order to do quality checks.

And, on each occasion, her nods meant volunteers could resume pouring and flipping.

“She’s in charge,” Lion Donna Henrickson said. “She’s the queen.”

Lions Sterling Chisholm, Pacheco and Tanji formed a unique trio that produced not only quality pancakes, but a scene out of “Riverdance” (or “Stomp?”) as they clanged their spatulas on stainless-steel covers and pans while keeping an eye on the developing pancakes.

Sally Kimura has been coming to the event for a long time and, as she’s always done, had her ‘ohana on hand to help her carry the 10 orders for her family to enjoy at home.

“Not enough exiting,” DM Taylor, the event coordinator mulled aloud. “They keep coming in, but not enough exiting.”

Taylor estimated that this year’s event would break last year’s total of about 900 meals easily.

“I think we’ll serve over a thousand meals by the 11 a.m. cutoff. But, this is not as big as the East Kaua’i Lions’ one.”

Taylor was eyeing the open field as a possible site for a tent to help accommodate the growing number of diners who discovered that the annual fund-raiser for the Lions provided an abundance of opportunities to meet up with old friends and neighbors.

Lion Richard Texeira was in charge of the entertainment, publicity, and the public-address system.

He said that Naomi Yokotake’s hula halau would get support from Pancho Graham, one of the musicians on the “Pacific Tunings” album, and a pianist known as “Captain Don.”

Lion Bob Kaden emerged from the bowels of the kitchen, explaining that he had an opportunity for a break since the rest of his family showed up, and he could enjoy breakfast with them before returning to duty serving up Portuguese sausage.

Instead, Kaden took his turn manning the silent auction area, where an abundance of items including a new golf driver could be bid for.

Generosity by local community businesses allowed a chance for breakfast patrons to leave with lucky-number-drawing prizes, and a chance to win an orchid assortment.

Among the many guests, Major Inch and Hans Hellriegel of the Kapaa Lions Club came straight off their help at the Friends of Kamalani workday to enjoy the yearly breakfast.

Roy Nishida, the Lions district governor and the county’s anti-drug coordinator, was also on hand to enjoy the meal, demonstrating the wide circle of diners who converged at the Hanalei School cafeteria for the event.

Mike Taylor was recently sworn in as the new North Shore Lions Club president. He explained that the breakfast is one of two or three major annual club fund-raisers.

The second one will come in September when they host the Annual Lions Golf Tournament, and, during the holidays, Taylor said the Lions go out and sell Christmas candy.

“But everything we make goes back to the community,” Lion Bill Troutman said.

Taylor said that the club provides funds for scholarships, with over $10,000 being awarded to North Shore students last year.

Additionally, Taylor said the club funds community basketball and soccer programs and, just last week, awarded the Kauai Search and Rescue canine team program a gift of $750.

Taylor said the club will be helping to assemble new play-ground equipment that will grace the Prince Albert Park at Princeville later this year, and are already scheduled to help both Kilauea and Hanalei schools with some of their projects.

This is in addition to conducting the annual hearing and vision screenings, and hosting the annual “Sight is Beautiful” poster contest.

Taylor pointed out that entries for this annual contest graced the walls of the cafeteria for breakfast patrons to enjoy in addition to their meals.

Another project the club takes pride in is the funding of a breast-cancer-awareness program headed up by Lion Sandra Sterker, who, along with husband Phil, made the trip to Hanalei from Kalaheo to help out.

“We do pretty much what people want us to do,” Taylor said.

“But we couldn’t do this without Suzie,” Henrickson added. “Without Suzie, there would be no Hanalei cafeteria.”

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