Ruiz comes ‘full circle’

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Chef Mark Ruiz, Tricia Ruiz, Krystina Baptiste and Chef Rodney Baptiste welcome diners to Kiawe Roots starting Tuesday at The Shops at Kukuiula.

Chef Mark Ruiz came full circle when Kiawe Roots recently celebrated its grand opening in the upstairs location above Tortilla Republic in The Shops at Kukuiula.

“I’m excited to be back in the kitchen that inspired me to open a place of my own. It’s time to grow,” said Ruiz, who started with Tortilla Republic in 2016.

Ruiz is joined by his cousin, Chef Rodney Baptiste, Tricia Ruiz and Krystina Baptiste in leading Kiawe Roots that will be open daily for brunch, happy hour and dinner.

“We are honored and happy to include Chefs Mark and Rodney to our extraordinary collection of culinary talents,” said Stacie Chiba- Migues, The Shops’ general manager. “We enthusiastically support this local family and their business venture.”

Kiawe Roots takes Southern smoked barbecue to another level with a nod to Asian and Latin flavors. The name “Roots” reflects the heritage of the Ruiz and Baptiste families.

On the menu are dishes such as Grandpa’s Chili Arancini, Jawaiian Jerk Pork Ribs and Dad’s Fried Chicken, and sides including Filipino-inspired Calamansi Slaw and Puerto Rican Gandule Rice.

Kiawe Roots is committed to serving residents and visitors the flavor of dishes traditionally found at their families’ backyard barbecues.

“The restaurant brings forth the tastes from our childhood past, mixed with food we’ve grown to love through our cultural and culinary experiences,” said Tricia Ruiz, Kiawe Roots’ manager. “We want our guests to experience our rendition of elevated Kauai cooking.”

Kiawe Roots is open for brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 8 p.m., daily.

Info: 631-3622.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or


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