Tag: restaurants

Front Street in Covid Lahaina

Sig and I had an errand to run in Lahaina today. After our errand, we parked as we always do in the Hilo Hattie’s parking lot on the Northern end of the Front Street tourist strip to see what Covid Lahaina looks like. By sheer habit, we wandered into the Adidas outlet. Sig always finds something there for the kids. Hilo Hattie’s has moved out of their street front location into the space directly behind Adidas. I wanted to go in, but the doors were locked while staff were on a half hour break.

After our obligatory Adidas purchase, we wandered through the deserted Outlets of Maui towards Front Street. It’s sad to see. This shopping center was once bustling, then died only to be revitalized a few years ago with a number of outlet stores. Now it’s pretty dead again. The big box stores were open, the smaller shops closed.

We walked past our first homeless gentleman towards Front Street. The former Hard Rock Cafe is being renovated, and there is a (strangely) newly opened Waikiki Brewing Company. The Adidas girls told us they serve bbq and is supposed to be good.

We’ve had king tides this week, so the sidewalk was wet from being sloshed with waves. Bubba Gump (Sig’s favorite restaurant) was open but on brief glance, I saw only one person at one of the less favorable tables. It was 5pm. This place would normally be bustling with people. The gift shop appeared to be closed. On the wall just past Bubba Gump’s there were four or five homeless people, just chilling. Another was talking to the security guard across the way. From there on most of the shops were closed, some boarded shut. A couple restaurants were open, such as the Lahaina Pizza Company. I have a few musician friends who used to play there, I had always meant to go and hear them play live, but never have made it.

Honestly, we turned around and walked back to our car. Front Street was depressing. While I generally don’t like how commercial it is, particularly not the high pressure face cream places, this was really sad. Acquaintances used to have jewelry places along Front Street, and year’s ago we’d heard of the $30,000/month rent payments. No wonder everything is closed.

The empty Banyan Tree – Covid-style

The good news

I like to think positive when I at all can. In my opinion it is so much easier to walk through life with a positive attitude. So here is the good news. It only took us 40 minutes to get to Lahaina today, very unlike normal non-Covid driving conditions. And there was very little traffic on the road. And our meeting went well.

But, I wonder when tourism will reopen again.

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Saying goodbye to the Maui Tropical Plantation

This weekend we saw the sad announcement on social media – the Maui Tropical Plantation is closing indefinitely. While I understand given the current economic realities, it is so sad to say goodbye to this place.

We’ve been coming to the Maui Tropical Plantation since early 2004, back before we lived here, when we fled rainy West Coast Januaries and came to Maui on vacation. Besides the gift shop and restaurant, they have a beautiful lake, ducks to feed and a trolley you can take to see and learn about plants that grow here on Maui. Back then they even had a monkey enclosure (those were moved to a new home a few years later).

A few years ago the Maui Tropical Plantation was revitalized, given new life with funky Sugar Cane Factory equipment incorporated into the landscape. It is to date one of my favorite places to go, enjoy the landscape, have a coffee, shop the gift shop and grab some fresh veggies at the Kumu Farm stand. I always intended to try their beginner zipline with the kids. Their Mill House Restaurant had stunning reviews, and though I never ate there, I did eat at the train bar once (yes, it had a full size sugar cane locomotive right there in the bar). This is on the ‘must do’ list for all boy moms, after all!

What happened?

Well…. Covid happened. The island all but shut down with mandatory quarantine imposed on all arrivals and with that tourism died – temporarily at least. As with many businesses, the Maui Tropical Plantation closed temporarily, only to reopen a few weeks ago. However, I imagine there was just not enough traffic to keep it viable and so now they are closing indefinitely.

This week they are having a closing sale at the gift shop, daily 10-4 (in person only, not on the website). I arrived shortly after 10 and…. the lineup went around the building, all the way to the shops in the back. While in line I chatted with those around me (all wearing our masks, sometimes in the shade, sometimes in the bright hot sun). We are all so sad to see this special place go.

What did I get?

Unfortunately I didn’t make it into the store today. The line was moving, but too slow for me to make it in and out on time to pick up my son from Kanaha Beach Park. I’ll try again tomorrow. It’s not so much that I wanted to buy something, it was more about going for one last visit. But yes, I know I would have found things I ‘need’. Like HI Spice hotsauce.

Tourism will return one day and with it, I hope, this beautiful place will be revived. For now, we say aloha and a hui hou (goodbye and until we meet again).

goodbye
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Reopening for vacation rentals!

I had just sent an email to all our upcoming guests yesterday and then sat down to watch Maui Mayor Mike Victorino’s press conference. I was expecting more of the same, information that affects me as I live here, but nothing positive about vacation rentals. Then – surprise! – he announced the reopening of vacation rentals effective June 16, 2020.

What does this mean for you?

If you live in Hawaii or have already finished your 14 day quarantine after arriving in the Islands, we are able to rent to you. We are offering 20% off rates for stays from June-September 2020 – coupon code ALOHA.

If you are coming to the islands and need to do your 14 day quarantine, I’m really sorry – but we cannot rent to you until you have completed the quarantine. Per the governor’s latest decree, we as owners can be held criminally liable if we rent to those under quarantine orders. Yikes.

When will the mandatory quarantine end?

As of this Monday Hawaii Governor Ige extended the mandatory 14 day quarantine through July 31. He talked about infrared temperature scanners and possible testing that will be implemented at island airports in the coming month. We are hoping the quarantine will NOT be extended any further. However, with the recent upswing in Covid cases on the mainland, who knows.

When will the US-Canada border reopen?

I recently read in a CBC article that the Canada/US border is actually only closed to land and sea crossings, but that you can currently fly from Canada into the US. If you can find a flight. Of course, there still is the mandatory 14 day quarantine into Hawaii to deal with. And the mandatory 14 day quarantine back into Canada upon return. It seems like a big hassle.

Continued reopening

On my walk along South Kihei Road yesterday evening I saw patrons sitting on a lanai at Fred’s Mexican Cafe. In normal times the restaurant would be packed with lines out the door, especially on Taco Tuesdays. I’ve seen people in line to pick up take-out, but this was the first time I saw someone being served on the lanai in…. months. I can’t wait til things get back to normal. Whatever the new normal will be.

Stealthy picture of one couple on Fred’s lanai.
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Special Edition Black Pearl beer

A few months ago I came across a special edition beer from the Maui Brewing Company – Black Pearl. The other day they had a picture of it on their facebook page – it’s back! I had to go pick it up. Check this article for more information on Black Pearl.

Maui Brewing Company
the special edition Black Pearl

I admit – I am not a beer drinker. In fact, I know very little about beer, except that I like dark beer. My go-to drink is usually a glass of merlot. But this beer is delicious.

I picked up a bottle of Black Pearl yesterday. It comes in a 750 ml bottle for $30, you can pick it up right in their pub. In fact, you can sample it before buying it right at the bar. As she was ringing up my bottle, the bar tender asked if I wanted to sample it vs the Coconut Porter. She said the Black Pearl was made from the Coconut Porter, which is then aged in a number of different barrels. Again, if you know more about beer, I apologize. But go check it out!

Maui Brewing Company

Have you been to the Maui Brewing Company? There are two locations on Maui. The original location in Kahana and the ‘new’ brewery with restaurant here in Kihei. If you haven’t been to the Kihei location, go. It is a really neat building that won an architectural design award. You can take brewery tours, sample any one of their 30+ beers on tap, play games on their outdoor patio and dine in their restaurant.

Maui Brewing Company
a glass of Coconut Porter
Maui Brewing Company
Special pizza of the day – brussel sprout bacon. Different and delicious
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Upcountry Walk

This weekend one of the kids needed to be upcountry for a 7 AM cross country run. To put this in perspective, we needed to leave our home in Kihei at 6:10 AM to meet at Grandma’s Coffee House which was their chosen meeting point. The coach chose one of my favorite upcountry walks for the run, so I made coffee and headed up the mountain with my athlete.

We made fantastic time, getting there early. I left the teens to do their run and started off on a walk, stopping regularly to take pictures of trees, flowers and of course the view. It is just breath-takingly beautiful upcountry. And cool. I am always warm, so I particularly enjoyed cooling down a little from Kihei’s heat.

The narrow, winding and hilly road is lined by traditional lava rock walls and offers gorgeous views.
Look to the left, down the mountain, and see Kihei, the ocean and West Maui Mountains in the distance.
upcountry walk
Look to the right and enjoy the meadows on Haleakala’s volcanic slopes, looking for cows, horses and goats.
upcountry walk
It is the tail end of jacaranda season, but there were still blooms to enjoy.
upcountry walk
I always smile when I see these peeling trees shedding their bark.
upcountry walk
Colorful blooms along the side of the road
upcountry walk
These giant leaves were catching discarded jacaranda blooms.

Grandma’s Coffee House

After my beautiful walk (and the team’s run), we all gathered at Grandma’s Coffee House for some breakfast. This is a small mom and pop shop, one of few restaurants in the area and consequently a bit of a gathering place. The coach struck up a conversation with an older gentleman reading his paper. Turns out he’s Grandma’s son. His own son, Alfred Franco, now runs Grandma’s Coffee House. He talked story with us for a while, telling of the coffee growing/roasting they do.

I had a small black Americano – one of the best coffees I’ve had in a while – and a pineapple coconut muffin. It hit the spot!

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My favorite restaurant

We recently went out for lunch for my birthday. I love celebrating birthdays. My favorite lunch restaurant is this wonderful place called Gannons.

Unless you are a golfer, it is possible that Gannons is off your radar. It is located in the club house of the Emerald and Gold Golf Courses in Wailea. You come up their long private driveway, past two of the nicer golf courses on Maui to an impressive white stucco building. There is ample parking (though sometimes you have to walk a little). Then you come in the doors, across a large courtyard and the restaurant is on the left (across from the pro shop).

Gannons

Gannons is one of two restaurants belonging to Bev Gannon – the other being the Hali’imaile General Store (also worth checking out).

Why is this place my favorite restaurant? Three reasons really:

  • the amazing restaurant space
  • the wonderful food
  • the beautiful view across the golf course at the ocean and Molokini

You just can’t beat it.

Gannons is open for lunch, happy hour and dinner. Brunch/lunch items range from $15 to $28 or so. Happy hour is also great with 20+ entree items, priced from $13-18 (they are smaller portions, so you may want to share a couple depending on your appetite). You do need to specify that you are here for happy hour at the Red Bar. Basically you want to sit at any table with an orange candle (otherwise you order from the dinner menu which is much pricier). I’m sure dinner is lovely – but quite pricey. And really, part of the attraction is the view, so come and eat during the day!

I do recommend making reservations, particularly for happy hour.

Gannons
Sig and I waiting for my birthday lunch at Gannons

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Tin Roof take-out lunch

What is your favorite take-out food? Are you a fast-food kind of person, or do you prefer better quality? Sometimes our lives are so busy, we don’t have time to sit down and eat a decent meal. Maui’s own Top Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof restaurant is the answer to that problem when on Maui.

Sheldon Simeon had already had a few other restaurants going on Maui – Star Noodle in Lahaina, and then a restaurant at the Andaz -when he started his own mom and pop shop, Tin Roof, over 2 years ago. It’s simple good quality take-out food at affordable prices.

Tin Roof is located in a Kahului strip mall along Dairy Road. They are open only between 10AM and 2PM. There are several restaurants in this strip mall, so know that parking is difficult to find. It’s probably easiest to send one person in to grab the food while the others stay in the car and circle around the block.

To reiterate, the Tin Roof is a take-out place with only a few seats should you need to wait for your food. It’s tight and crowded inside. Again, it’s easiest when only one person runs in to grab the food. But trust me, the food is amazing.

Here is how best to order lunch. Go on their website (super easy on your phone) and check out their menu. There are a 4-5 entrees and a chefs special, a few add-ons, and some ‘other grinds’ (grinds being food). Select what you want, additional options (such as rice, add-ons etc), add to cart, select the time you want to pick up and pay right on your phone. Then at your designated time, go to their restaurant and pick it up from the counter. Yum!

Yesterday I picked up an order of mochiko chicken on hapa (half white half brown) rice with an add-on of pickled onions. My $10.42 meal was ready to pick up when I got there.

By the way, this summer Sheldon Simeon opened another restaurant at the Shops at Wailea ~ Lineage. It’s located at the top of the shops, next to the grocery store, close to Lulu Lemon and Louis Vuitton.

Rachel Ray’s U’i Gallery

While in the neighborhood I stopped at my acquaintance Rachel’s art gallery – the U’i Gallery – which is right next door to Tin Roof. I needed a few more of her beautiful calendars and mugs! If you’re shopping for souvenirs or gifts, do check it out! Rachel’s younger daughter Kahalau was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. Since then they have been fighting for her life. They have been working on a reduced schedule, but I believe are open daily from 11-2 or so. 

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Pueo Premier Card

It’s the beginning of a new school year and Kamalii Elementary School has issued their new Pueo Premier Card for the year. We have one of these at each of our four condos, so please do use the card to get discounts (similar or better to kama’aina) at local restaurants and stores. If you are not staying at our condos, swing by the school office at Kamalii Elementary School. They sell them as a school fundraiser for $10 cash. Mahalo for supporting local schools.

What’s on this year’s cards? Here are some of the restaurants/stores represented. Check out the picture of the cards to see them all.

  • 5 Palms Restaurant
  • Amigo’s
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Cow Pig Bun
  • Dina’s Sandwitch (sandwich store at Sugar Beach Resort)
  • Duo Steak & Seafood
  • Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse
  • Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods
  • Matteo’s Osteria
  • Maui Brick Oven
  • Maui Taco
  • Roasted Chiles
  • Round Table Pizza
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Scuba Shack
  • Shearwater Tavern
  • Three’s Bar & Grill
  • Wailea Pharmacy

Cards are good for 1 use per day per offer and must be presented at time of purchase/order. Only 1 free item (unless specified) may be received on each visit. 2 for 1s are for equal or lesser value. Offers cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Discounts at participating locations only.

kamaaina rate
picture of this year’s Pueo card – lots of discounts at local stores and restaurants

Kama’aina discounts

Speaking of discounts – what does ‘kama’aina’ discount mean? Kama’aina is the Hawaiian word for native born or ‘child of the land’. Here is an article about the meaning of kama’aina. Businesses in Hawaii are much more liberal with the application of the term when they offer kama’aina discounts to residents. Typically you need to show your Hawaii State ID or driver’s license to get the discount.

Note that though I have lived on Maui for 8+ years now, I am not considered a local. To be local, I would need to have lived here much longer.

The specials offered on this Pueo Premier Card are similar to these stores’ kama’aina discounts. In some cases these are instead of kama’aina discounts.

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Train at the Mill House Bar

I’ve written about the Maui Tropical Plantation‘s transformation the past few years. I’ve even posted pictures of the very cool historic train inside the Mill House Bar. I finally got to eat there!

lahaina
A train in a bar? Yep! Only on Maui 🙂

When we first started coming to Maui on vacation, the Maui Tropical Plantation was always on our ‘things to do’ list. The main attraction was their duck pond for our kids. After a number of years it unfortunately closed to the public, only to have been reopened a few years ago under new ownership. The new owners have done an amazing job of the place. I love how they’ve taken old sugar cane factory parts and converted them into lawn art and garden decor. An homage to Waikapu’s rich sugar cane history. Admission to the grounds is free, and I highly recommend you go check it out. And yes, the gift shop (which is large and good) also sells $2 duck food baggies.

maui tropical plantation

The Tropical Plantation also features the Mill House which is a high-end farm-to-table restaurant and bar. I’ve always admired the bar from outside – particularly checking out the historic train inside the bar (how cool is that!). The other day I finally got to eat there – happy hour and pupu (appetizers). The food was great, service good, the ambiance amazing. Specifically we had a squash pizza, ceviche and bao bun tacos.

mill house bar
pupu at the Mill House Bar

mill house bar

What’s up with the train in the bar?

The locomotive is known as the Claus Spreckels – the second locomotive purchased for the Kahului-Wailuku railroad in 1881. It transported passengers and freight on a 13 mile (!) line. It is on long-term loan from Maui’s A&B Sugar Cane Museum. Be sure also to check out King Kalakaua’s train car (also on display in the bar)

mill house bar
more information on the Claus Spreckels train in the bar

Other things to check out at the Maui Tropical Plantation: a coffee roaster, ice cream, several smaller shops, a tour of the property. Do note that most of these places close at 4pm. The Mill House also hosts it’s weekly Chef’s Table event. At $150/person my friend tells me it’s an amazing culinary event.

 

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Maui Brewing Company

The Maui Brewing Company opened their Kihei production facility a few years ago. I took a tour of it a while ago – it was really quite interesting to see and learn more about beer. And, it included a flight of their flagship beers. Tours are offered several times daily.

Maui Brewing Company started in 2005 in Lahaina. They moved to their Kihei facility I think in 2016 (their Kahana brewpub is still open and popular also). The owners, Garrett and Melanie, were awarded the US National Small Business Person of the Year award in 2017. Quite an honor for a craft brewery in Hawaii. If you like beer, do check this place out and try a sample.

The brewing company has a tasting room where you can sample their 30+ beers on tap and their very own (non-alcoholic) rootbeer. The tasting room is popular, they have board games and a giant tic tac toe game to encourage patrons to hang out and have fun.

Maui Brewing Company
the tasting room bar

Until recently they had a rotation of food trucks parked outside the tasting room. This past February they opened their own on-site restaurant. The other day I stopped in to take a few pictures. I really like the way it turned out with a view into the brewery itself.

Maui Brewing Company
view into the brewery from the restaurant

 

Maui Brewing Company
view outside from the Maui Brewing Company restaurant

The Maui Brewing Company – brewery and restaurant is located in Central Kihei. To get there from the Piilani Highway, you turn up the mountain (mauka) on Lipoa. Drive past the Maui Nui golf course to the Maui Research and Technology Park. You will see the facility on the left hand side, across from another popular hangout – Cow Pig Bun (located in the black glass building).

looking up at the restaurant at the Maui Brewing Company

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