One smart ‘Kookie’

KALAHEO — When Kauai Kookie LLC first expanded from its Hanapepe factory-store in 2011, it quickly earned a reputation as one of the best burger, bento and macaroni restaurants on the island.

They recently capitalized on their success by expanding into adjoining building space and by opening a second store, natural Boars Head Deli, a Kauai coffee expresso bar, a shake bar, with shave ice and fruit smoothies.

“It’s about creating the experience and making sure it’s enjoyable for our guests,” said manager Ann Hashisaka about the store that opened about a month ago. “Some people see Kauai Kookie sign and don’t realize that we serve food.”

The deli has a line of specialty meats and cheeses without preservatives or nitrates. In addition to the line of crispy and soft Kookie products, the new store has room for their own Hawaiian Hula dressings, sauces, toasts, specialty cakes, pies, pastries, gifts, clothing, a liquor section, dairy coolers and, of course, the complete line of baked breads and soft or crispy Kookie.

“We like to say, ‘Bake with aloha,’” she said. “That carries through with the products we make and the feeling that we put into them.”

There is also space in the former Menehune Market for shakes with as many sweets as one could want, but also with options for the calorie conscious. The shave ice is back with traditional syrup and new natural puree flavorings as well as fruit smoothies.

Kauai Cookie was founded by Mabel Hashisaka in 1965, with business in the Big Save stores. Daughters Ann and Ruth Hashisaka were raised on the Westside and helped to open the Hanapepe kitchen and storefront. It would go on to become Kauai Kookie LLC, and Rainbow of Tastes Hawaii.

The family was involved in the food business dating back to the 1930s when Ann’s grandfather and his brother on the Kawakami side of the family started a retail business in the camps. They would go on to found Kawakami Enterprises and the chain of Times and Big Save Markets.

“I am a third-generation along with my sister Ruth and many cousins,” Ann said, recalling the days with Kauai Kitchens, among the first to bring bento and loco moco, and continue today with the same plate lunches and burgers. “It is not easy to start from scratch, and we are fortunate as third generation proprietors and are thankful to have something to build upon.”

There are eight varieties of classic Kookies dating back to the 1960s, and they’ve added seven more made with low fat ingredients.

After revisiting some original recipes, Hashisaka said they pulled the past into the present with a little innovation to meet the changing needs of the marketplace while staying true to the family’s legacy.

“It’s almost like coming full circle,” she added. “It’s like coming back home.”

The store is at 2-2436 Kaumualii Highway at Papalina Road in downtown Kalaheo. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

The other side is open from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends with dinner served on the new side.

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