Big fast food chains are flocking to Maui. Not everyone is sure that’s a good thing

Not everyone is thrilled about big fast food chains setting up shop on Maui.
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:36 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 7, 2022 at 10:24 AM HST
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Known for its funny commercials, shakes and slushes, and now a catchy jingle with iconic Hawaiian musicians Fiji and Laga Savea — Sonic Drive-In is making its stamp on Maui.

The first location in the state broke ground off Hookele Street in Kahului last week and has created a buzz around town ever since.

“I like Sonic burgers. I like the food. I’m from Southern California so I’m familiar with the chain,” said Pukalani resident Lazaro Quilon.

Down the street, Chick fil-A broke ground last year, and is slated to open by mid-2022.

“I’m excited to see more food places going on around this area,” Quilon said.

However, not everyone is thrilled about the big fast-food chains setting up shop on the Valley Isle.

“It definitely is hard to swallow because of the fact that I was born and raised on the island. Just seeing our island grow,” said Duke Sparks, owner of Sparky’s Food Company.

Sparks opened his first food truck in 2016. He now has a second one in Lahaina and is looking to open a third. He said he is not worried the new additions will take away his customers, but he wants to be a voice for other small business owners who may be struggling.

“Having the support that these corporations have, especially when they come into Maui, small business owners such as ourselves, we don’t get that kind of support,” Sparks said.

Kihei resident Tonia Ciancanelli agrees.

“I prefer to support people that I know in the community, somebody’s aunty or somebody’s grandma,” she said.

Sparks said he has nothing against Sonic Drive-In or Chick-fil-A. He just encourages the community to continue to support local.

“Being a local here, of course it makes me sad to see our beautiful island Maui change so drastically,” he said. “Show us the same love that you show corporations.”

There’s no exact open date for Sonic Drive-In just yet. The sign off Hookele Street says “Soon, very soon.”

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