Apr. 18, 2008 by Marti
Sing Hallelujah! Honolua Store Revival!
In case you haven't noticed, Kapalua is witnessing a Renaissance. The razed Bay Hotel is being replaced with luxury oceanfront residences. The Ritz Carlton has undergone an extensive remodeling and dedicated one full wing of the hotel to private ownership suites. Once known primarily as a golf enclave, the newly developed Kapalua Adventure Center expands its luxury market appeal and also coaxes intrepid hikers and outdoorsmen to the most extensive zipline course in North America. The retail center entices with gear so chic no one will see you sweat. An in-house café offers healthy lunchtime nourishment while locals and visitors alike await their java jolts at the irresistible coffee bar. Down the road a piece, the Kapalua Farms harvests a wide assortment of fruits, vegetable and herbs specifically for the local culinary market.
Smack in the middle of all the action, the old Honolua Store has also witnessed a significant facelift. Always a favorite of local tradesmen, who historically crowded the cafeteria lunch line in anticipation of the two scoop rice plate lunch special that changes daily, the revered establishment has expanded to include gourmet food, cheeses, fresh produce from the Kapalua Farms, impressive wines and a coffee bar. Once restricted to affordable grinds for breakfast and lunch, the newly redesigned cafeteria line also offers carry-out dinners nightly, such as the crab stuffed salmon I recently enjoyed for $12.95.
Like so many other people, I half expected not to accept the new incarnation of the Honolua Store. I loved the old world charm of the original. The history and the spirit of the early plantation workers were still present in the energy of the building. The clerks and lunch counter ladies knew my name and what I had likely come in to buy. The chef would call me when she had stuffed cabbage on the menu. Since places like that don't exist very often in today's world, I feared losing that unique ambiance in the name of progress.
So I'm very relieved to report that in spite of the recent expansion and decidedly upscale market appeal, the original flavor and intent of the Plantation-style company store is still happily intact. Sure, there's the swank brushed aluminum counter tops in the cafeteria, expanded cooler cases, inviting lighting design and oh-so-enticing grocery displays, but these elements make a visit to the store all the more pleasant. It's clear that the designers were painfully aware of the importance of retaining the fundamental nature and personality of the place while improving and expanding on what it had to offer. No small feat, they've managed to preserve the unique charm and spirit of the old country store. In fact, I love it even more now.