Tiare Roberson was born on Maui and has fond childhood memories of doing backhoe work for a neighbor in exchange for free rides on his horse. Roberson would take her lunch breaks and ride the horse to and from her favorite country store. It was a few miles up the highway from Paia, near Peahi.
Eventually, her favorite store changed owners. Later, it closed. But eight months ago she, her father and partner–big wave surfer Makua Rothman-opend the location and Jaws Country Store was born.
“I think my favorite thing about the store is watching our community come here and make connections with each other,” said Roberson. “Whether it’s having kids come here for their after school treat of shave ice, or girlfriends meeting for brunch, I feel like nowadays time is so precious, and the fact that people come and choose our place to spend that precious and quality time makes me feel so honored and privileged.”
The focus of the store, located on the Road to Hana, is carrying Maui-made products, food and artisanal items. Roberson has worked with her community to bring in crafts and products from local families. The store carries home-made skin care products from a woman in Haiku, potted succulents that are made by a five-year-old girl and her grandmother and beautiful wave rings that are created from two young surfer girls that are friends of her sons. Families living in the area make Pikake lotions, dried bananas and coconut candies, as well as fresh flowers from the farms up the road, all of which are found in the store.
A few neighborhood kids have also held their first jobs at the Jaws Country Store. Some started out doing dishes and worked their way up to the register or kitchen. It’s a great opportunity, especially considering that there aren’t many job prospects in the area.
“I grew up in this community, and I love that I’m able to give back,” said Roberson. “That’s what makes this place great. It’s run by a team of amazing people that are no longer just employees. They have become family.”
The food at Jaws Country Store is also special. Chef Koa Taylor and his team crafted a diverse and changing menu. The store has homemade turmeric and ginger iced tea, smoothies and all-day breakfast items like banana bread French toast. There are also poke bowls, salads, plate lunches and an array of sandwiches perfect for surfers on the go or anyone who wants to sit and enjoy the picnic benches and beautiful park atmosphere.
Everything is local, with fisherman pulling up in the morning to deliver daily catches and farmers stopping by with fresh produce. One of the newest menu items the chef is working on is a tempeh bánh mì sandwich. Tempeh is a meat alternative, healthier than tofu. It’s marinated, has an aged garlic aioli and is topped with pickled root vegetables, mint and cilantro. The sandwich can also be made with their house-braised brisket, which the Jaws Country Store offered at their recent appearance during the latest Makawao town party.
The store loves being apart of the community and was also at the most recent Jaws Peahi Challenge surf contest, making breakfast burritos for the contestants and spectators.
“It’s all about our neighbors and our community,” Roberson said. “I grew up in this community and have lived here my whole life. When people come here and spend their time, in return I want to give them an experience, something that is amazing. Whether it’s fresh delicious organic food, or friendly customer service, we want to create an experience where people feel comfortable and satisfied.”
JAWS COUNTRY STORE
4320 Hana Hwy., Haiku
Open Mon-Sun, 7am-7pm (kitchen closes at 4pm)
Photos: Sean M. Hower