HE 'EIA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hungry for some guava chicken? How about some luau stew with a side of taro macaroni salad? We're continuing series on successful small businesses in Hawaii navigating their way through these tough economic times. In Kaneohe, we found: what's old is new again.
At the end of He'eia pier sits a general store and deli - where they've spun plenty of fishing tales through the generations.
Last spring, two young, humble hotshots - chef Mark "Gooch" Noguchi and entrepreneur Russ Inouye - took over the place, gave it an expensive facelift, and reworked the menu. That left old timers at the pier a little worried.
Inouye says they wondered,"What are these new guys doing? What's going to happen? But once we started working and getting to know everybody, they helped us out so much from their knowledge of their past."
It's that past that's helping define the present.
"The catchphrase now: it's all farm to table," explains Gooch. He and Inouye decided to put the brakes on our fast-food nation - instead, crafting meals straight from the aina: fish from the pier, beef from the Big Island, and produce fresh off local farms. It really does take a village to make these sustainable plate lunches.
"The farmer grows it and we take it, and we treat it with the utmost respect that we can," says Gooch. "The kuleana that we have to serve this Kaneohe community is pretty big."
Both regulars and newcomers says there's no place like it in Kaneohe. Customer Genie Simeone explains it the best, "Either drive - or I come by boat if I'm on the water and I get hungry - and I just stop and eat."
Not only do they use local food in the kitchen, they're also supporting local artists and products by selling those items in the general store – which is attached to the restaurant.
It's a tough time to open a new business, but their advice for others thinking about it is: stick with it. "Yeah, you want to make money, but you really got to have a passion behind what you want to do," says Inouye.
Gooch adds, "Take the long vision. It's not immediate gratification. You're not going to see the results, but the long road is the right road. The long road is the only road." Plus, there's that constant reminder in the kitchen – a sign by the counter that reads, "Push yourself".
If you'd like to check out this successful small business, He'eia Pier General Store and Deli is open for breakfast and lunch everyday, except Monday.