On Pi‘ikea Avenue a block up from South Kihei Road, and tucked in behind the Azeka Mauka Center, there’s been a large parking lot that mostly sat empty and unused. The space, known as Kihei Station, has become the home for six food trucks, with space for possibly two more. Live music and entertainment is in the works.
David Hanley, owner of Island Kiosk, a company that manages this pod, describes it as a, “centralized eatery.”
He spoke to the growing popularity of these pods on the mainland. “Number one, you don’t have to move the trucks as much, but more importantly you have six or eight different brands in one location,” he said. “Customers and families can come in, and half the family can order a burger, and the other half can order fried chicken. It’s a kicked-up food court on wheels.”
The pod features a large shaded area with picnic tables, surrounded by the food trucks. It emulates a food court atmosphere, minus the annoying congestion that comes with being in the mall. This open-air concept, with tons of parking, makes it easy for people to sit and enjoy a meal, or pop in, grab their favorites and head out.
Currently, Kihei station has six food trucks. There’s 808 Street Grindz, a neighborhood classic, famous for their generous use of cheese on pulled pork sandwiches and loaded fires. Then there’s Teddy’s Bigger Burger, another island favorite that has become well known for their beef, veggie, and chicken burgers. Pua‘a BBQ is a barbeque on wheels that features two smokers for both chicken and pork, and fresh squeezed lemonade. And Gus’ Hawaiian Shave Ice is famous not only for their shave ice but also their coconut cream fruit shaves, featuring seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie.
That’s just four. There are also the two newest additions to the Kihei Station that are brand new trucks that Maui residents haven’t yet had the privilege of experiencing. Bait & Hook is a seafood truck featuring poke bowls, lobster mac and cheese and fish tacos. There’s also Greek Mediterranean Grill, which will offer classic Mediterranean dishes like wraps and Euro plates. Both set to be open Dec. 1.
“We’re offering new experiences on a regular basis,” said Hanley. “Offering food that people can enjoy without having to go to a full service restaurant, and spend that kind of money. Plus, it’s a casual, fun, family environment.”
The food trucks are still planning on shifting around the island, though having a centralized home for them makes it much easier on the equipment. Maui has a couple other food truck pods like this in Kahului, by Costco and Home Depot.
Chef Ray Santos of Pua‘a and the coming Mediterranean Grill and Bait & Hook trucks thinks this is something that will bring new life to Kihei.
“This pod is something very creative,” said Santos. “Something that Kihei has never done. It’s providing new scenery for people that live in Kihei, but also people that are passing through. It’s a great central location.”
Kihei Station is open every day from 11am to 6pm. Hanley has plans to eventually get licensing for events that will last later into the evening. Providing a variety of quality cuisines for people to enjoy while enjoying the comfort of being outside on your own schedule, is the goal.
“A great aspect of food trucks is that you can change them out based on customer demand,” said Hanley.
The Kihei Station will definitely be taking customer’s thoughts into consideration and strives to provide the food that the community wants, when the community wants it.
Photos: Sean M. Hower