If you haven’t been to West Kaka‘ako, specifically SALT at Our Kaka‘ako, you’ll see there’s more to it than what’s visible along Ala Moana Blvd. This community hub of retail, restaurants and services is an emerging space for arts, culture and creativity—perfect for lunch meetings, pau hana or getting together with friends. I had a chance to visit a few of the businesses earlier in the week and learn a bit about them:
Bevy Market’s Chef Susan Smolinski at left, Mixologist Christian Self at right
Facing Auahi Street, Bevy Market is a small cafe serving up fresh gourmet salads, sandwiches and beverages for lunch in a menu inspired by New York-style markets and delis. The menu was created by Chef Susan Smolinski, signature cocktails crafted by Mixologist Christian Self. Also find picnic boxes ready to go, plus made in Hawai‘i goodies. We got to sample the incredibly delicious Croque Monsieur (pictured) topped with torched gruyere cheese. I will be returning when it becomes part of the regular menu!
Beginning her career as an astrologist then moving into Feng Shui, Founder Alice Inoue of Happiness U helps people to change their perspectives in a way that best serves each individual. On a daily basis, we’re bombarded by negative news, messages, complaints, etc. and through corporate programs and online and in-person classes, Inoue offers ways to deal with, overcome, learn from and change one’s mindset. One of her guiding principles: “Nothing happens to you. Everything happens for you.” Wrap your mind and heart around that one.
The days of film are over you say. Think again. Treehouse sells merchandise related to film photography, including arts and crafts kits and supplies to encourage hands-on photography in today’s digital world of immediate gratification. Remember the days of inserting film in the camera, one chance to frame the perfect shot, turning in the roll for processing and being happily surprised—or not—when seeing your prints? This store brings back those nostalgic days. Film processing chemicals, black-and-white photo paper, camera bags and more are available at Treehouse, as well as books and accessories. They do film processing, servicing film cameras and also hold bimonthly Film Camera Swap Meets for buyers and sellers.
Owner Jake Mizuno is passionate, passionate about street culture and how his store, Milo, plays a role in that culture, starting with its present location next to Bevy Market. “Hawai‘i street culture needs to come back,” Mizuno says. “We need to send that message (to everyone).” The concept of Milo is hard to pin down, but you’ll find a collection of travel gear and accessories, organic beauty items, Milo tees and more. Mizuno describes his shop as “…a surf, travel and art lifestyle boutique.” You’ll just have to see it for yourself.
General Manager C. C. Foo (at far right) has 20 years of experience in the ice cream biz, and finally dove into entrepreneurship when he opened Butterfly Ice Cream just last month. Step inside and you can see the entire ice cream making process behind the large glass window. The ice cream is made fresh from scratch in small batches using local ingredients alongside waffle cones. You’ll find unique flavors such as Lehua Honey and Black Sesame (YUMMY!) and more, as well as alcohol-infused selections like Irish Cream, Daiquiri Sorbet and Peach Chardonnay. The Black Sesame is so popular that people call ahead to make sure it’s available and take home a pint!
As of this week, there are vacant spots, however, a number of stores, cafes and restaurants have been open for awhile. Stop by this community-oriented and creative space where you’ll find owners determined to offer their own unique services, products and merchandise in West Kaka‘ako. It’s all about supporting local businesses!
Happy Travels! Sarah