Lani’s Island Snack Shack Targets Local Cravings
For Lani Kaluhiwa, ingredients are everything.
The owner of the newly opened “Lani’s Island Snack Shack” is trying to lure locals and visitors alike with scratch-made shave ice syrups, and island treats sourced directly from producers.
Housed in a 700-square-foot space within the recently completed Manono Marketplace, “Lani’s” features a broad selection of local snack favorites, from cracked seeds to dried fruits.
Asked why she chose to start her new venture, Kaluhiwa’s reply was simple, stating “I always wanted to have a local snack shop, some place for kids to come, like how we used to grow up.”
“I try to focus on organic dried fruits” explains Kaluhiwa, who still holds a job as food service manager at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences. She describes ordering most of her products “direct” instead of through an intermediary, buying cracked seeds from producers on Maui and Kauai, and importing cuddle fish and other delicacies from Japan.
Kaluhiwa’s shave ice is the real star of the store though, as she makes all of her syrups from scratch. She’s especially proud of her “Milona” syrup, and offers locally made ice cream from “Dave’s” as a pairing to her snow cones, or as a stand-alone treat.
“Lani’s” is also friendly to diabetics, offering sugar-free syrups, candies and cracked seeds. 100% Kona Coffee is also on hand, for those needing a caffeine fix.
Kaluhiwa plans to also produce her own cookies and snacks soon, mentioning hand-made lollipops as one of the first items she looks forward to making herself.
Between her full-time job and new venture, Kaluhiwa hasn’t had much time to market the budding business, relying instead on word of mouth to get her noticed. As for hiring, she keeps it strictly “in the family” with her daughters and friends pitching in where necessary.
Sandwiches and sodas are offered, and Kaluhiwa intends on adding island produce to her selection soon. She is also still seeking local snack businesses to supply her store, and is interested in meeting more producers to help flesh out her selection. “If I try it and it’s good, then we’ll try selling it,” she explained.
Kaluhiwa also assembles the store’s products into gift baskets, and is intent on becoming a resource for people sending island treats far and wide. “We’re all set up for mail order” she says, adding that supplying local fundraisers will also be part of her business plans.
Lani’s Island Snack Shack, 681 Manono Street Hilo, HI 96720 (808)-969-9353.
Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.