Plantation-style platesCover Story
January 2, 2022
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
Kalapawai Market has been a Kailua institution for nearly a century with its iconic green facade serving as a welcoming landmark for those headed to and from the area’s famous beaches.
Locals and visitors have come to rely on the crack seed and grocery store, which was owned by theWong family prior to Don Dymond taking ownership in 1992. Longtime customers remember Elise Wong, who would put kids to work at the store if they couldn’t pay for their favorite candy. After Dymond’s passing, his son, Lindsey, took over operations in 2014 and has grown the brand to include Kalapawai Café & Deli locations in Kailua town, Kapolei and the newest location in Waimanalo.
“What’s important to us is our heritage in the Windward community, as we started with Kalapawai Market, right in front of Kailua Beach,” says Lindsey. “My father was looking for a career change from commercial real estate and saw that the store was for sale.We literally lived a block away, and having retail experience in his younger years, he decided this was the opportunity.
“The emerald color is significant to Kalapawai. We painted it green because it has a visceral, emotional kind of feeling of nostalgia to locals; it’s that old plantation-style architecture, and when you see certain styles or colors of buildings, it makes it feel like old Hawaii. The market was exactly that.”
The popular Kalapawai Cafe & Deli restaurants offer breakfast, lunch and full-service dinner seven days a week. The Kailua location just celebrated its 15th anniversary last month, the Kapolei eatery opened five years ago, and Kalapawai’s newest location opened a year ago in Waimanalo with dinner service now available from 3:30 to 8 p.m.
Nate Aoyagi heads Kalapawai’s wine program for all four locations, and the Waimanalo restaurant features brand-new wine taps that prevent spoilage and waste, and keeps the quality wines fresh. Dymond explains that executive chef Jason Iwane has been with the company for 17 years and oversees the kitchen managers at each location, while mentoring the culinary team and helping to foster the culture and create menu items. Dymond’s wife, Jessica, is Kalapawai’s baker and crafts the cookies and some of Kalapawai’s ono fresh-made pies available by the slice.
Diners checking out the revamped menu at the Waimanalo restaurant can look forward to Poke Nachos ($16) as fresh spicy ahi poke is accompanied by kimchi avocado, kabayaki, togarashi and pickled ginger and served with housemade tortilla chips. Iwane has introduced Lechon Kawali ($14) to the Waimanalo menu, as the selection that was served at the Kapolei location features deep-fried braised pork belly tossed with apple cider vinegar, patis, tomatoes, onions and green onions.
Chicken Parmigiana ($18) is a classic Italian dish honoring the restaurant group’s Zia’s Caffe heritage that is composed with San Marzano sauce and mozzarella atop spaghetti. Chicken Milanese ($17) was a special at the Kapolei location that became a top seller and now graces the Waimanalo menu, and resembles a cutlet as it is flattened and fried.
The Sherwoods Burger ($16) is an item specific to Waimanalo named for the nearby beach and recreation area. The burger is built with a 1/3-pound grilled wagyu beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, arugula, tomato, onion, pickles and a house burger sauce on a brioche bun and served with french fries.