LAWAI — After more than 20 years of serving the community, the Lawai Menehune Food Mart closed its doors for the final time on Wednesday.
“This is it,” said Kurt Toma of MFM, Inc. “This is the fourth quarter and the clock is running.”
Kurt’s mother, Gert Toma, was instrumental in making the store popular for homemade goods and food like the Lawai manju, Spam musubi and sushi.
“I don’t know,” said Zenaida Soriano, who, along with Yulanda Acob, spearheaded the manju. “I’ve been doing this from the Matsuura Store days. I’ve been with Big Save for 24 years. Maybe I’ll take a long vacation, but I just don’t know.”
Charles Kawakami, MFM, Inc. president, declined to say why the store was closing, but did say a decision was made to not renew the lease.
7-Eleven Hawaii will be the new tenant. It recently announced the signing of a long-term lease with Matsuura family to take over the location. The Matsuura brothers, Sakae and Masa, were the founders of the original neighborhood store in Lawai.
“As the last of the Matsuura family, I am happy to have you folks carry on the business to meet the needs of the community,” said Jane Matsuura Ouye, sister and current property owner.
This will be the company’s third location on Kauai, with two other locations operating in Hanamaulu and Lihue since 1986.
7-Eleven Hawaii said it plans to hire employees from the local community and has pledged to have the store up and running as quickly as possible.
“We are happy and excited to have the opportunity to offer our goods and services to the Lawai Neighborhood,” said Greg Hanna, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Hawaii, Inc.
Toma said the MFM, Inc. human resources people will be meeting with the employees to discuss their respective options following the store’s closing.
“Most of them have agreed to stay on until the end of the month,” Toma said. “Starting Thursday, we start breaking down because we need to be out of the building by the 30th.”
Wednesday, the kitchen pumped at full capacity as the crews filled orders for customers.
“I had to bring them a card,” said Bertram Almeida. “I come here for coffee every day. Today, I’ll get my last cup.”
Toma said closing a store as popular as the Lawai Menehune Food Mart is always sad.
“This is why we look at tradition and how our parents and their parents did things,” Toma said. “It’s sad to have to close, but we’re moving forward to another chapter.”
MFM, Inc. owns and operates four Menehune Food Mart convenience stores on Kauai, two Subway Sandwich outlets, and two Shell gas stations.