There’s a transformation afoot at the corner of Vineyard and Market in Wailuku. It centers around the cute Caribbean-inspired food truck known as Kokopele, a co-op created by Jotham Hall, Kelli Love, Cory and Dana Foht and Mike Flint. The group has dedicated themselves to generating an oasis under the banyan tree, forming a collective location for healthy lifestyle and entertainment.
The morning I met the crew, they were busy. Love was on the phone with The Grouch, who will be performing on Friday in the courtyard at their Blue Moon Festival. Cory Foht was moving coconuts and setting up the bike blender, and everyone was headed east to pick up bamboo for fencing.
“We are trying to make this into a local organic farm stand that you would see in Hana,” says Cory Foht. “Only we are doing here in Wailuku, close to Iao Valley. We are just trying to make it a positive street corner again for the community.”
Cory gathered and shucked fresh coconut, making coconut milk for the drinks, dishes and smoothies on the menu. His brother Dana did the area’s landscape and graphic design. Kelli Love shaped the recipes on the menu.
“I have done a lot of music–Jamaican, reggae, I toured with a Panamanian group so I picked up a lot of recipes my whole life from different aunties and people,” says Love. “It’s great food, it’s island food, which Maui has all the ingredients you need. We were going to do just vegetarian but we found there’s a big demand in this area for some chicken so we found an organic range-fed chicken source right at the time that we were opening. So we just included those recipes. We all have a really clear shared love of the islands, island food and island flavor so we wanted to bring a little of the flavor over here.”
The menu features bicycle-blended smoothies, fresh coconut, mint basil lemonade, watermelon juice, Kona cold press coffee or frappe, jerk chicken, jerk tempeh, jerk tacos, broccoli cheddar soup and sides. They also have salad. It’s small, but everything is locally sourced. The tempeh is from Maui Tempeh Company. The day I indulged in their delicious tempeh tacos with their coconut rice, Hall was busily whipping up everything.
The space is coming along. Under the banyan tree they’ve built several picnic tables and painted them in Caribbean brights. The taller bamboo fencing and new plants in open spaces give it an intimate, tropical feel.
This Friday, July 31, the corner will explode into the energetic Bay to Hawaii Blue Moon Festival. Kokopele is bringing in a full lineup of entertainers, who will play from 5pm to 11pm: FreeRadicals, Eligh, The Grouch, Zion I, and Kreayshawn are all headlining the show. The corner will also have vendors, food and DJ’s in-between sets. Ticket are available at Fundabanda.com/campaigns/bay-to-hawaii-blue-moon-festival or at the stand ($20 in advance or $30 at the door).
Kokopele also hosts Second Saturdaze, a reggae event with DJ Irie Dole second Saturday of every month. The truck is open every weekday starting at 11am. For more information on Kokopele’s events or food, call Jotham Hall on his cell at 510-683-4083 or just go to Kokopele’s at the Wailuku Banyan Tree.
93 N. Market St., Wailuku