Hoaloha Na Eha Ltd. maximizes operations through state-of-the-art culinary center
LAHAINA — Hoaloha Na Eha Ltd. has added to its family of award-winning businesses on the West Side, with the opening of Star Noodle Restaurant and the completion of the Hoaloha Culinary Center (HCC) in the Lahaina Business Park in early February.
The 7,767-square-foot facility is the brainchild of local entrepreneurs Robert Aguilar, Michael Moore and Tim Moore, founding partners of Old Lahaina Luau, Aloha Mixed Plate and Hoaloha Productions.
The storefront is the Star Noodle restaurant open seven days a week for lunch (10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and dinner (5:30 to 10:30 p.m.).
The Japanese pub-style eatery seats 50, including bar and communal table.
In the back of the house, there’s a 3,500-square-foot production kitchen and 2,500-square-foot warehouse.
“The center will support all of our existing operations as well as growing our catering and manufacturing operations,” partner Michael Moore explained.
It makes good economic sense.
“For 24 years, we’ve operated from leased offsite production kitchens and warehousing,” he reasoned.
In addition, according to Julie Yoneyama, director of employee and community relations, “the facility has consolidated and maximized staffing, inventories and purchasing power of all our enterprises, resulting in cost savings from bulk purchasing inventory and quality control to in-house production of products that had been outsourced.”
The commissary kitchen services Old Lahaina Luau, Aloha Mixed Plate and Hoaloha Productions, the catering arm of the enterprise.
“We are currently catering the Pacific Whale Foundation’s boats that leave out of Lahaina daily — includes the morning snorkel trip, cocktail cruise and dinner cruises,” she added.
The culinary equipment is state-of-the-art, including a Rheon Encruster machine, Double Rack Combi Oven, industrial size pressure steamers, Big Batch Pasteurizer, gelato machine and an “old school noodle maker”.
The Rhoen Encruster “can mass-produce anything that is ‘stuffed’ like dim sum, dumplings, calzone, cookies, filled pasties and layered ice creams,” Yoneyama said.
The Double Rack Combi Oven is “only one of two in the state,” she explained.
The warehouse is high-tech, including centralized purchasing power, inventory control and distribution management.
Yoneyama is proud of the expansion.
“The culinary center provides the space, equipment and opportunity for our chefs to create unique and exotic food for our venues as well as catering. For example, one of our sous chefs has the opportunity to make homemade ice creams with our gelato machine… Our sous chef, Joe Horvath, is able to do ice sculptures for events, if needed,” she said.
In these challenging economic times where more jobs are lost rather than added, the center employs 27.
“It certainly has been a little nerve-wracking to take on this big project in the midst of the current economic climate, but we started the project over four years ago when no one knew what was about to happen. Thanks to an absolutely amazing team of managers and employees, we seem to be surviving well through these difficult times,” Michael confided.
Managers of their newest endeavor are Executive Chef Craig Masuda and Warehouse Manager James Cacal.
Raised in Lahaina, Masuda graduated from Lahainaluna High School in 1987 and the Maui Community College Culinary Arts program in 1994. He joined the Hoaloha Na Eha culinary team in 2004 and was promoted to executive chef in 2008.
Masuda thinks big picture when describing the value of the culinary hub.
“Hoaloha Na Eha/Old Lahaina Luau does a lot in giving back to community. With the exciting addition of the Hoaloha Culinary Center, we have created new and creative ways to give back. Having a state-of-the-art facility like Hoaloha Culinary Center (HCC), we can now support the baking of cookies, pies and muffins for fund-raising events. The West Side now has a place that makes fresh noodles daily. We also have a Demonstration Table and look forward to holding cooking classes open to the public,” he said.
Moore agreed: “The new Culinary Center is an extension of our corporate vision in terms of our support of community and culture and belief that healthy commerce is one way a community can work towards the perpetuation of culture and the preservation of the ‘aina.”