Pono Market ‘spreads the aloha’

KAPAA — There is only an hour to switch from the inside of Pono Market to the outside during the First Saturday event hosted by the Kapaa Businessmen’s Association in downtown Kapaa.

From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, Pono Market, 4-1300 Kuhio Highway in downtown Kapaa, accomodates special vendors who take advantage of the bustling little market’s storefront on First Saturday.

“We normally don’t open for First Saturday,” said Robert Kubota, the third generation of operators for the family store. “My parents support the event, but even if it’s just once a month, it takes a lot out of them. They get up early to be able to open at 6 a.m. Sometimes, you have to just be able to enjoy.”

Kubota says they’re glad to support regular vendors Joyful Wraps Kauai and Elena’s Gourmet Pretzels and Specialties.

“Joy Griffin is here on First Saturdays with her line of custommade bracelets, anklets, and necklaces,” Kubota said. “Wear them and spread the joy.”

Elena Camat, the powerhouse behind Elena’s Pretzels and Specialties, whose product lines the shelves next to the popular food cases in Pono Market, started making pretzels as a fundraiser for her son’s soccer trips.

The response was so overwhelming, she has continued to crank out pretzels, adding a variety of flavors, and even expanding to beyond the popular Chinese pretzels. She will be manning the table with her family during First Saturday.

“We support the community in this way,” Kubota said. “We used to also have nonprofits, but now that KBA is trying to better coordinate things we just stay with our two vendors.”

Normally open from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, Kubota invites people to visit the market and the Coffeetalk cafe operated by Kenneth Kubota. Saturday hours are 6 a.m. until 4 p.m., and the store is closed on Sundays.

“Some of the more popular items people come in for are the poke bowls and local food specials,” Kubota said. “We continue to roll Grandma Kyoko Kubota’s sushi recipe, and the family continues to spread the aloha started by Minoru ‘Mino’ Kubota since 1968.”

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