After working in the food and beverage industry for over two decades chef Jojo Vasquez has a distinct vision for Fond, his own Neighborhood Eatery. He wanted to create a full service hub for the community, combining his culinary creativity with a space where family and friends can hang out. After eight months at it, Fond is getting fine tuned, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and running popular weekly specials like their FFC (Fond Fried Chicken) Wednesdays and Ohana Pau Hana, a family-friendly snack and drink time.
“My professional goal is to lead my own business,” says Vasquez. “I went to culinary school knowing that I would learn everything from restaurant openings to menu developments, training teams, and refining operational procedures so I could do this on my own one day. I worked in my family business, catering in Chicago, culinary school, and worked for mentor chefs that developed my methods and techniques.”
This journey led to creating a refreshed space out of the former Koho’s/Beach Bums Napili location, near the Napili Market. The restaurant has a cool modern edge but the vibe is easy and relaxed. Counter dining converts to a chef’s table on the weekend or action stations for their monthly Beats and Eats events. The bar is tucked off to the left in the dining room, and there is plenty of open air seating and patio seating.
“I want people to feel our vibe,” says Vasquez. “We created an eatery for people to gather and enjoy our menus, bar program, and music, and feel that they had a wonderful dining experience. A neighborhood eatery is a place where people can gather to eat, drink, and spend time together. Our eatery has an open space with different sections to gather: dining room, lounge with couches, bar, or our chef’s counter. My philosophy is to feature the finest local ingredients, connect people with the food we create, and have our guests try all of our daily offerings so they can see how different and unique each experience can be. ”
Now that the holidays are over Fond will go back to offering Chef Counter on Saturdays. Chef Jojo and his protege sous chef whip up their most artistic and culturally inspired dishes served omakase-style in four courses at the counter. This is an experience you will want to make reservations for. The menu is $65 and you can add on three adult beverage course-pairings for $30. You get a bird’s eye view on preparation and priceless interaction with the chef as he explains the dishes, where he sourced ingredients, and what the inspiration was.
“Chef’s Counter is an intimate dining experience for 10 people that allows me to do what I love, connecting people with food,” says Vasquez. “I go into great detail of how I prepare each course and plate in front of the group so they have the opportunity to ask any questions.”
Their popular Fond Bento and Longganisa Corn Dogs are showstoppers on the menu. On Wednesdays Fond puts together the Fond Fried Chicken night where they serve a family-style fried chicken dinner with all the fixins. Brunch goes from 8am to 2pm Monday through Sunday with a good spread. Of course they have the pancakes and eggs and lunch sandwiches and salads you would expect, but try the brunch bowls or the Sarap Silog bowls. The brunch bowls combine different combinations of proteins, veggies, and carbs, like the Shakshuka Baked Eggs, with tomato, peppers, and aromatics. The Silog Bowls take your favorite Filipino proteins and combine them with garlic fried rice and an egg on top, for the ultimate savory belly bomb.
“I’m not going for any specialty,” says Jojo. “I just focus on creating food that is locally sourced and culturally inspired. I get inspiration from Maui, the beautiful produce and seafood and the people that care to harvest it!”
The Ohana Pau Hana (OPH) goes from 2:30pm until 4:30pm and runs Tuesday through Sunday. Fond has an array of pupus for all sizes of appetite, from ginger soy wings and gravy fries, to Sloppy Jojo, poke bowl, and taters. There are beers on draft, wine on special, and a few select cocktails, plus something for the keiki.
“The OPH menu has something for everyone,” says Vasquez. ”Special pricing for bar offerings and milkshakes for kids.”
The ‘ohana action is no surprise, as it’s also a family affair at Fond: Jojo’s wife Eliza is there too, and she DJs their Beats and Eats events and works alongside him. Beats and Eats happens the last Friday of the month, from 5 to 9pm during dinner service. It offers a pop-up themed menu, chef collabs, and drink specials.
“Chasing my dreams with the support of my team has been the best experience,” says Vasquez. “Nothing can be done without my leaders and staff that all care about giving our guests a special dining experience. Having guests appreciate what we do is our motivational driver.”
What’s more, Vasquez holds close his responsibility to the community and what it means to be sustainable. It’s all part of Fond.
“In my industry it is our kuleana to support local,” says Vasquez. “When we focus on being a sustainable business then we are not only showcasing Hawai’i, but keeping all of our industries business going. ‘Farm to table’ shouldn’t be a call to cuisine, it is a way of life to support a full circle.”
5095 Naplilihau St. Ste. 115A
Lahaina, HI 96761
Monday 8:00a – 2:00p closed for dinner
Tuesday- Saturday 8:00a-9:00p