Sunday evenings in Kahului are usually pretty quiet. Recently, though, a team of food innovators has joined forces to change that. Since July, Maui Sunday Market has gathered food trucks, vendors, and musicians in the parking lot between Burger King and Maui Style Market (the old Ah Fooks). “We’re thrilled with how much this event has grown since we first started,” explained Maui Sunday Market’s event coordinator Kau`i Kahaiali`i. “Our inaugural Maui Sunday Market was held on July 22. We had a nice crowd who showed up to see what was happening. But mostly, people were curious. After all, this is Kahului and there are very little weekly events happening in this area.”
Every Sunday from 4-8pm, the parking lot transforms into a mini-fair, with food trucks serving up specialties ranging from pizza to barbeque to cotton candy, vendors selling local products like hats, jewelry, and honey, and a stage with live music playing throughout the evening. Last Sunday, we wandered through to check out the scene, chat with vendors, and eat some yummy food.
And there was a lot of food. From pizza to pateles, garlic noodles to barbeque, and ramen to cupcakes, ice cream, and cotton candy – there was a lot on offer.
First stop was to grab something to drink from Kekane, who sells mamake products. “It’s a Hawaiian plant that has been here for thousands of years. The mamake plant has thirteen different varieties; each species has different benefits,” he told us. He grows all and makes tinctures and tea. “Maui doesn’t have a natural soda, I’m the only one,” he tells us. The lemon ginger mamake soda, served in compostable cups, was delicious.
“We’re steady all night over here for sure,” Devin of Patele House Maui told us. He took some time out from serving his long line of customers to chat with us about the food truck business. His truck is often parked at Kahului Harbor. “We try to stay busy,” he said.
We meandered over to a super cute truck, Pele’s Pizza, and were greeted enthusiastically by owner Savannah, whose brother Christian was cooking pizza in the oven out back. “We’re going on a little over four months right now; it’s our passion project come to life. We built this trailer from the trailer up, including our wood fired oven. We source everything as locally as possible,” explained Savannah.
Next up was a blonde, hippie dude named Brian, who very enthusiastically encouraged us to try samples of the Ulupalakua honey, made at the farm where he is a WWOOFER: “Save the bees, it’s a real thing!”
Besides the food trucks, the Market also offers an eclectic variety local products like succulents, starfruit, hot sauce, hats, and pearl jewelry. Juan of Hawaii Made Products sells a variety of local items, like soap from Filthy Farmgirls, jewelry, and even a sundial watch. “It’s all sourced and made across the islands,” he explained.
Ui and Mario of Maui Grown 808 showed us their coconut palm woven hats and baskets. “The market has been pretty good,” she said as she explained their backstory and products. “In our culture, if you don’t perpetuate, you lose it,” Ui said. “We run a plant nursery located in Lahaina.” Mario showed us the hat he had just finished, and made me a cute little coconut palm fish to take with me.
As the sun set over the West Maui Mountains, the string of lights over the Market illuminated the scene and made the Market feel even more like a festival. The seating area was full, so we perched on a curb and ate our food truck goodies under the fading light. On the stage, the Chop Suey Jazz Band, complete with a handful of saxophone players, played old-timey jazz hits while a cute kid wearing fuzzy bunny ears conducted. It was a wholesome way to spend a Sunday night.
“We feel blessed to see the outpouring of support from residents and visitors alike who have attended,” said Kahaiali`i. “Word has quickly spread about this event which has become a place where locals can gather, reunite with friends and neighbors, and visitors can see the array of foods and products that our islands have to offer. There’s a waiting list of food trucks who want to participate, and we’ve even run out of tables for people to eat at. It’s a nice problem to have.”
The Market is presented by the Maui Food Technology Center, a non-profit that’s on a mission to encourage Maui’s local food scene by supporting local farmers, food innovators, and entrepreneurs. Maui Sunday Market runs every Sunday from 4pm-8pm at Kahului Shopping Center, right off Ka‘ahumanu Avenue.
Maui Sunday Market
Kahului Shopping Center
65 W. Ka‘ahumanu Ave.
Sundays 4pm – 8pm
Photos courtesy Maui Food Technology Center