Liliha Bakery: Did somebody say coco puffs?

Since the 1950s, Liliha Bakery has been satisfying appetites across Oahu

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Liliha Bakery doesn’t need an introduction in Hawaii.

But for those not in the know: Try their coco puffs.

The chocolate pudding-filled, macadamia-nut chantilly frosted cream puffs are Liliha Bakery’s signature creation. And they sell thousands of them every day.

The bakery’s puffs have made them a household name in the islands.

It all started in 1950, when the Takakuwa family opened their first location on Liliha Street. But eventually, Hawaii restaurateur Peter Kim — owner of the Yummy Restaurant Group — took over the business in 2008.

Angela Choi, the bakery’s director of marketing, said one of the key parts of the bakery’s long-term success was the loyalty from customers.

“We have customers where they came to Liliha Bakery when they were little. They’re coming now, even with their children,” Choi said.

“It’s this multi-generation that I think is helping keep alive with the local community. At the original location, we have some customers that come in a few times a day, every day.”

And it looks like that devotion to the bakery isn’t stopping anytime soon.

“I think coco puffs is what brings the people to come visit us because they want to just try that one coco puff. Once they come here, they notice there's other 150 items that we still bake from scratch,” Choi said.

“I think it's also more special because it's exclusive to Hawaii. We don't sell it elsewhere, anywhere, because it's only Liliha Bakery.”

(Image: Liliha Bakery)
(Image: Liliha Bakery)

One of their popular new items is the poi mochi donut — a Japan-inspired, ring-shaped donut — which Choi says is “a new classic.”

“We try to strive for consistency from product to people. So all the way from our items that are being baked. We have some workers that have been here for 40 years, so that consistency I think needs to carry on,” Choi said.

Choi said that the bakery being a “family place” was also vital to the bakery’s success.

“I notice when people have get-togethers, this is a place that people stop by to get items for their group — potlucks, school functions. It goes back to the family,” Choi said.

After Kim took over the restaurant, he had some ideas to help make some improvements and adjustments.

Now, the bakery has three locations in Oahu: On Kuakini Street, Nimitz Highway and its newest location at Ala Moana Center.

(Image: Liliha Bakery)
(Image: Liliha Bakery)

“With the Nimitz location, that location has 150 seats so that definitely catered to bigger groups,” Choi said. “As compared to the original location which only has 21 counter seats. As for the Ala Moana location, this is like a perfect fit because they have a bakery side and they have the coffee shop side.”

Choi added that the bakery was trying to reach “everybody.”

“We have our different locations for different reasons. You know, small groups, late-nighters for the 24-hour, families with the cakes for the celebrations. You know, the millennials,” Choi said.

Another way the bakery is trying to expand is by having a more active presence on social media, using the hashtag #localisliliha on Instagram.

“In the beginning, we were fortunate to have 35,000 followers on Facebook. Luckily, the Facebook following came through on Instagram. And we’re trying to do a lot on Instagram, Instastories, trying to engage with our followers, we comment back,” Choi said.

The inside of Liliha Bakery's new location at Macy's inside Ala Moana Center.
The inside of Liliha Bakery's new location at Macy's inside Ala Moana Center.

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