The third time’s a charm

Sweet Marie’s Hawaii Bakery moved to its third location in five years.

“The third time’s a charm,” said Marie Cassel, owner of the state’s first certified dedicated gluten-free and allergen-friendly facility. 

Once again, her customers can enjoy sweets that are 100 percent gluten free. 

“All my customers are finding me and supporting me and I really love this place,” she said of her new locale in a new building that is a replica of the former Post Office building at 3-4291 Kuhio Highway in Hanamaulu. The original structure was built in 1896 and burned down on Dec. 14, 2012.

Building owners Kina and Deane Abben said there were 14 tenants in the original building. The new building opened in June and has room for 12 tenants and currently has eight with the bakery.

“We are happy that she is here,” said Deane Abben. “Her bakery is a great fit.”

Dorothy Nakazawa of Kapaa said she has been a loyal customer for years and thought Sweet Marie’s had closed after seeing the sign on the door in its old spot in Lihue. She was driving by the new location when she saw the sign and came back to see if she was open.

“Her carrot cake is divine,” Nakazawa said. “I hand out her cookies and they are popular just for the taste alone.”

Cassel has been on island since 1992 after a career in specialty catering in Philadelphia and California. After working as the pastry chef for many years at A Pacific Cafe, she started her first bakery from scratch in 2006 until 2011.

In early 2012, Cassel moved into the former Lihue delicatessen space. She said it was a great space but the location was wrong for her type of business. It took some work to make the Hanamaulu location work for Sweet Marie. She is actually renting three units, one for the kitchen, one for an office, and the front room that will serve as the retail sales and health eduction room.

She built the kitchen from scratch in a little under 258 square feet of space. The 11.5- by 12-foot kitchen is tight but for a small commercial kitchen, everything is almost within arm’s length. The goal was to keep it as efficient as possible.

“This is my third build up that I have done from an empty room to a kitchen,” Cassel said. “But I like where I am at now, it feels like I’m home.”

She was the first in the state to get a gluten-free facility certification.

Sweet Marie’s is a bakery for everyone but especially for those who suffer from auto immune conditions or have gluten sensitivities that interfere with the body’s ability to process nutrients and cause severe pain. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye, barley, malt and spelt — all common, basic ingredients in flour-based foods such as breads, pastas, soy sauce, cheese and even beer.

Sweet Marie’s recipes call for organic gluten-free rice flour, organic cane sugar, organic palm sugar, and a variety of time-tested, healthy substitutes. All the muffins are gluten, soy and dairy free. The coffee cake has a dairy-free version for the lactose intolerant, and she even makes a gluten-free pizza dough.

“This is my passion,” Cassel said. “Most don’t know it’s gluten free and we can switch ingredients out to accommodate.”

Cassel continues her catering, retail and made-to-order specialty cakes, muffins, cookies and bread.

“We have a whole line of baked goods, catering and wedding cakes”, she said.

For customers who want to do their own cooking, Sweet Marie’s sells soy- and dairy-free muffin mix by the bag. They come in tropical, mango macadamia nut and banana.

Cassel said she plans to add light breakfast specials and lunches to go along with the coffee and retail in the morning. The signature desserts and cakes continue to be the mainstay of the business along with catering special events.

“I am just passionate about what I do and I love educating and I love creating,” she said.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and also by appointment. Call 635-8229.

A grand opening will be held today.

They will serve cake from noon to 2 p.m.

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