The partnership between Megan Childers and Jackie Goring extends beyond their business, the Wailuku Coffee Company. Like most small local business owners, they’ve had to grow with the demands of customers. Their original idea of supplying Wailuku with affordable food when they opened two years ago has also changed a bit.
“People wanted the upgrades!” said Childers. “They were willing to pay a bit more to have extras. So our menu has changed and we have fancier cheeses, vegan, gluten-free and plenty of options for those who want that.”
Their self explanatory build-your-own sandwich ($6.95) exemplifies this. It’s also probably one of their most popular items. No mere deli selection here: now you can choose from gourmand ingredients like pesto aioli spreads, exotic veggies, chevre, feta, turkey, kalua pork and several bread options.
Their coffee selection has changed, too. “We replaced the medium roast Sumatra with 100 percent Maui grown coffee,” said Childers. “It’s been an adjustment for those who loved the Sumatra, but it’s a good change. We have Hana Bay coffee. It’s grown in Kula–the yellow caturra or the red catuai.”
They’ve also had to put on aprons and get baking. A couple of months ago, Cake Bakery–which had been supplying their baked muffins, scones and sweets–gave them two weeks notice that they would end that service.
“We knew we wanted to bake our own stuff, but that deadline really put us in action,” said Goring. “It was a lot of trial and error in our test kitchen at first, really trying to figure out the recipes that worked.”
Childers’ and Goring’s business philosophies are firmly rooted in creating a legacy cafe and coffee culture in Wailuku for Wailuku. In order to keep up with their new baking schedule, they installed an oven they bought from the closed Aroma D’Italia kitchen, and are now focused on introducing more Maui-grown goods into the menu.
Now the cafe boasts a daily selection of fresh baked goods, like TuTu’s harvest, a fourth generation recipe that has been passed down from chef Naki Kanekoa’s family (Childers husband). When I ask Childers what’s in it, she said, “everything goes in it. Pumpkin, chocolate chips, walnuts, craisins. It was originally a loaf recipe but we love it as a muffin.”
Their scones are also simply irresistible. They use an amazing recipe that creates a light, creamy crumb in this morning fruity biscuit-wannabe. Quiches are made in house, with a veggie and meat option daily. Local vegan soup company Maui Vegan Soups supplements their healthy menu options along with their addition of 100 percent organic fresh-pressed fruit and veggie juices for $5.
During a recent visit, I watched a plate holding their papaya turkey salad come out of the kitchen. Goring fussed over the placement of cilantro and garnishes. “Jackie is the food stylist, and the mastermind of our recipes,” said Childers. “She is quality control around here. Muffins have to look as good as they taste.” Clearly listening to us, Goring just smiled as she adjusted a plate of pastries.
Their teamwork has paid off. The cafe has become a hub on Market. Its hours Monday through Friday are now 7am to 5pm, and 8am to 3pm on Saturday and Sunday. Oh, and if you bring your own coffee cup, you get 25 cents off your coffee.
They also hold monthly art exhibits with 15 percent of the proceeds going to local charities. This month, it’s Arts for Education Children’s Group. The Wailuku Coffee Company ohana also got together and created an eclectic collection of paintings for their “Ohana Art Show” that you can see on the walls of the cafe during May.
“We have lots of things about to blow up in our second year,” they told me. Dinner shows, food education stunts, events, art and more menu expansions and changes in June. “We want to help build that foundation that helps people reclaim their food and keep it sustainable here. We are absolutely passionate about feeding our community healthy food.”
Wailuku Coffee Company
26 N. Market St., Wailuku
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