LIHUE — For over a decade, one Kalaheo man dreamed of owning his own business, but it wasn’t until his 41st birthday in late November that his dream became a reality.
Sitting in his new shop on Peleke Street, Kelly Hadama said he started “The Butcher and The Fisherman” because he has a passion for cutting meat and fish.
“It’s a thing I did all my life, with fishing and hunting. Growing up here on the island, it’s a way of life,” he said. “I just grew a passion for cutting meat and the art of breaking down the carcass and having all these different cuts of meat and different textures and different ways to prepare it.”
His dream, he said, was to be an old school butcher, but when people started coming into his shop and saw that he had a kitchen, he said there was a demand to start serving box lunches, jerky and poke.
“I just have to roll with the punches and learn how to cook and see what the customers like and eventually then I have to, once the kitchen was going smooth, then I could bring in my meats and fish, so it was like the total opposite way of what I wanted to do,” he said.
Every day, he says, is a challenge.
“I don’t want to be like good, I want to be always better. What I did yesterday is, ‘I can do better,” he said.
On average, he serves about 65 customers during the lunch hour.
With a focus on locally sourced beef, pork and seafood from throughout Hawaii, Hadama said starting his business has been challenging because people on Kauai don’t like change.
“If you could get people to try new things and step out of the box, it would be great for everybody,” he said.
One of the ways Hadama says he’s doing that is to show local people there’s more than one way to prepare an item.
Though his favorite way to prepare meat is on the grill, he said since opening his business, he has also had to learn new preparation techniques.
“We’ve been trying to put it out there to our box lunches and they seem to like it, so hopefully they’ll catch on and say, ‘let me try and then I’ll try to make my own, and I’ll come in to try the meat,’ they’ll buy the fish and go home and try to make something similar,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to catch, that crowd.”
For Hadama, one of the most important aspects of his business is holding onto the local mom-and-pop island style stores he grew up with.
“I’d like to have a one-on-one relationship with the customer and me, I can better serve the customers by having the one on one relationship and understanding what their needs are and what they’re looking for,” he said.
The supply, he said, is endless, because he can get anything his customers are looking for.
“I can source them out and find them and bring them in,” he said, “so it can benefit the customer.”
His next goal is to work with chefs in the restaurant business who want to promote local beef and pork. He’d also like to work with farmers to sell their produce.
“There’s no place you can actually go and say, ‘I want this cut, or that portion, or I want a six-ounce steak, or an eight- ounce steak of this cut of local beef,” he said. “If they want to put local beef on the plate, I’m pretty sure they have to buy the whole carcass, or half the carcass.”
At his shop, Hadama said he’ll be able to use the part of the carcass the chefs don’t need.
“I have no idea where I’m going in the future, just keeping this place alive and trying to keep the island mom and pop stores going at least, if it’s a small corner, better than nothing at all, just keeping the local lifestyle alive,” he said. “It’s part of Kauai. If you lose that, than you lose Kauai.”
Kauai, he said, is the last place on the islands that have little mom and pop stores.
“Eventually, they’re fading off, because none of the kids, my generation, if they’re parents owned a store, they’re all, ‘no I’m not going to do a store.’ If you do away with mom and pop stores, you no more that one-on-one connection with the customers and with quality products,” he said.