If you’ve hung out in Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea, you might have noticed the carved tree hanging on ropes in the entrance, the huge communal table and the wood in the hostess stand. If so, you’ve seen some of the beautiful work Armstrong Builders was responsible for in the construction of the restaurant. Now their work is being appreciated by more than just patrons: Armstrong’s Monkeypod craftsmanship just won them a 2012 Gold Nugget Award in the Best Retail Project category.
The company says it took them four and half months to do the demolition, finish carpentry and do the general labor on the restaurant. The design “utilizes the distinctive, local and sustainable wood from its namesake Monkeypod tree at unique communal areas such as the pizza bar top, the community table, and the host stand,” says James Keller*, Armstrong’s president. “In addition, the eatery features handcrafted details throughout, including a reclaimed wood overhead trellis, a cut wood and woven rope screen, hand-painted surfboards and glass fishing float backdrop.”
Keller is justifiably pleased. “We’re proud of many of our projects, both commercial and residential,” he says. “In fact, last year we won a Grand Award at the BIA Hawaii Renaissance Awards for another Maui restaurant, Japango at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort. Additionally, we’re proud of the sustainable projects that we’ve completed in partnership with the [Department of Hawaiian Home Lands] DHHL which include Kumuhau on Oahu and Lai Opua on the Big Island. We recently completed the lobby renovation for the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. Our current projects include the Easter Seals at Kahului and 26 homes for the DHHL.”
Monkeypod Kitchen was conceptualized by chef and owner Peter Merriman and Bill Terry, CEO of Handcrafted Restaurants. Terry says he and Merriman had been fans of the Monkeypod tree for years, which is how the restaurant got its green name. It was natural that they used the wood of the Monkeypod in the design.
“Along with being an iconic tree in Hawaii, some of the best hand crafts come from Monkeypod wood,” says Terry. “It’s used to make ukuleles, bowls, benches, etc. Hawaiian craftsmen have been using it for years. The tree also has a unique property in which it thrives and simultaneously protects the grass and life below it. It can be used as a metaphor for how we want our company to interact with the community. We want to thrive and support our community as well through our purchasing and practices.”
Gold Nugget Awards are in their 49th year and are open to builders across the world for architectural innovation. Armstrong Builders was established in 1976 and builds homes and commercial projects in Hawaii.
* The article originally attributed Keller’s quote to a spokesperson, when in fact it was from him. We regret the error.