Bleu Cupcakery Seeks Sweet Success

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Being in the food business is rarely part of a well-planned career path.

With the exception of cradle-to-grave culinary proteges (here’s looking at you,
Jamie Oliver), a life in the foodservice industry can represent everything from a
desperate last-stand to a dream-come-true life change.

For Nani Rivera, professional baking was a happy detour. She had just finished a
graduate degree in counseling when she decided to hit the eject button on an
otherwise methodical career plan. Rivera instead chose to create ‘Bleu
Cupcakery’ with her sister Becky Rivera-Stevens.

The sisters had no prior foodservice experience, but both felt there was a need
in West Hawaii for a fully-fledged cupcake shop. “We wanted to do something
that Kona didn’t already have” comments Rivera, adding “we also wanted
something we felt was doable.” Rivera explains that an interest in baking made
the idea of a cupcake shop both appealing and attainable.

After meeting with a small business counselor, the sisters decided to avoid bank
loans to finance their operation, choosing instead to seek out private funding


Finding a location turned out to be a months-long affair, with the pair eventually
choosing a space once occupied by Quiznos off of Henry Street in Kona, two
doors down from Starbucks.

The display window at 'Bleu Cupcakery.' Photo by Nate Gaddis.

The display window at ‘Bleu Cupcakery.’ Photo by Nate Gaddis.

Rivera and her sister signed onto a relatively short one year lease for the 1,350
square foot location. A complete renovation was in order, although the existing
electrical and plumbing infrastructure remained intact, helping to avoid
unnecessary permitting delays.

The sisters now start their days at around 4 a.m., making a variety
of cupcakes and frostings from scratch daily. A large variety of confections make their way to the display window, including their always-available vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet cupcakes.

Specialty cupcakes rotate throughout the week, with customer-favorites like “campfire” (think S’mores) and “cookie dough” making frequent appearances. Rivera is particularly pleased with their new lilikoi (passion fruit) variety.


Rivera feels that sourcing products locally, including eggs, chocolate, and milk, will
help with their bakery’s customer appeal, as will an avoidance of artificial

The cupcake shop offers both Kona Coffee and locally produced milk in its
beverage selection, in addition to flavored Italian sodas. Party supplies and custom
packaging are also sold.

Photo by Nate Gaddis.

Bleu Cupcakery storefront. Photo by Nate Gaddis.

New items are slowly being added, with brownies recently becoming a regular
feature. There have been frequent requests for cakes, and Rivera says “that’s
something we may get into soon.”

Cupcake prices range from $2.75 to $3. Special orders for events are


‘Bleu Cupcakery’ is located at 75-1022 Henry Street, Kailua Kona.
Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Phone (808)-331-BLEU

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