KALALHEO — Being in business for 23 years and contributing to the local workforce are the greatest achievements for John and Kristina Ferguson of The Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Company.
The Ferguson’s are recipients of the 2017 Small Business Administration Small Business Person of the Year for Kauai County.
“We’re really grateful mostly for our employees and our customers that helped us get to this spot,” said John, a former executive chef at the Waiohai Beach Resort.
District Director Jane Sawyer of the U.S. SBA said the SBA Small Business Awards shine a bright light on the skill, innovation and drive of small businesses in the state.
“The 2017 winners clearly show the creativity, and the tenacity needed to compete and thrive in today’s markets,” Sawyer said. “These business owners demonstrate the best of Hawaii and the promise for the future.”
Honored as the 2017 Small Business Persons of the Year for the state are Garrett Marrero and Melanie Oxley Of Maui Brewing Company.
The Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Company employs 35-40 employees, with 15 working full-time.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Kalaheo establishment serves local dishes, vegetarian, gourmet entrees and topped off with a coffee-espresso bar.
Kristina is humbled by the recognition.
“We couldn’t have done it without the hard work of our staff,” she said. “They’re so dedicated. The award goes to all our employees as well.”
The Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Company opened shop in Kalaheo in 1994, in the current location of Kauai Kookie.
“After Hurricane Iniki, we wanted to stay on the island, so we had to either start our own business or we had to move,” Kristina said. “My brother had a coffee shop on Oahu and I thought, ‘He can do that. We can do that, too.’”
The couple moved to its location in Kalaheo on Labor Day weekend 2005.
“We started out with breakfast and lunch at first. Our kids were young at that point,” John said. “By the time we moved into here, the kids were older (in high school), and we decided we would do dinner as well.”
The couple said the cafe is fortunate to have the community’s support.
“During the (recession), our local clientele has kept us in business,” John said. “The tourist industry is great for us, but without our local clientele, we’d be sunk.”