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Lifestyle // Island Matters
Mufi Hannemann

A Proud Family Moment On Maui

Last week I traveled to the Valley Isle for Maui Police Department’s 78th recruit class graduation at Maui Beach Hotel. I was invited by MPD to be keynote speaker and, given my aloha and respect for the family of first responders, accepting was a no-brainer.

As mayor, I always believed that one of the most important responsibilities of the head of a county is the health and safety of residents and visitors. Our men and women in blue put themselves in harm’s way to save and protect us. Government’s role is to ensure that the officers and their families are always appreciated and supported immensely.

It was refreshing to hear Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa echo similar sentiments to the recruit class and their loved ones, describing them as an extended ohana that he was proud to be associated with. What also was very commendable (having attended and spoken at numerous ceremonies through the years) was the presence of the Council chair and majority of the Council, and every member of Maui Police Commission, who stayed to the conclusion.

The major highlight of the event was witnessing the graduation of my nephew Paul Feagai, son of my sister Nua and the first member of our clan to become a police officer. Our Hannemann-Feagai ohana was 30 strong, comprised of family members who traveled from Kalihi, Kaneohe, Palolo, Aiea, Kapolei, Ewa Beach and as far away as New York to witness this special moment.

I have never seen Paul so focused on accomplishing a goal since his football-playing days at Farrington High School. In his youth, he faced several uphill challenges that would have made it easy for him to give up on the rigors of the police training requirements. But he was determined to do well so he could serve his community and also embark on a promising career to support his wife, Kehau, and 4-month-old son Liam. So it was a pleasant surprise to all of us when he won two awards: Best Notebook and second for Arrest Defense Tactics. It’s a tribute to Police Chief Gary Yabuta and his recruit training staff for motivating Paul and his nine peers to stay the course and complete the requirements. Congratulations to the newest corps of police officers of Maui County and their ohana: They make us proud!

Liliha Bakery – The Best Is Yet to Come

Every Liliha Bakery aficionado must be ecstatic that owner Peter Kim will be opening a second, larger location at the old Sam Choy’s restaurant building on Nimitz Highway. Tales of waiting in line or leaving because there were no available seats at the 23-customer counter in Liliha made for many a disappointing experience. But relief is on the way, with plans calling for 40 counter seats and space for 120 at the dining tables, with ample parking to accommodate the crowd.

This local establishment has been an island favorite since the 1940s. Credit foodie entrepreneur Kim with taking it up a few notches with a host of improvements and changes he put into place since taking over in 2008. From installing new equipment to implementing a computer system, which entailed teaching a new set of skills to his employees, to adding new items to the popular bakery, as well as new dishes to the dining side all have enabled the onetime Alabama Crimson Tide field-goal kicker to increase revenues by 35 percent while maintaining the simplicity and aura of a “good eats and good fun local gathering place.”

So what’s in the works at the new location besides the good eats and expanded seating?

According to Kim, ” I’m going to give it a face lift by redoing the floor, have better lighting and hang nostalgic pictures of Liliha Bakery.”

As for menu items, Kim plans to add some “surprise bakery products” and introduce “prime rib and new steak dishes,” perhaps some borrowed from his The Signature restaurant atop Ala Moana Hotel.

I asked Kim whether he was growing too quickly, with an opening set for his new bakery less than a year after The Signature opened. While he may have preferred a little more time focusing on the 25 eateries he presently owns and operates, Kim believes, “The location on Nimitz was too good an opportunity to pass up, and if I declined, I may have to wait another 20 years for something better to turn up.”

As a disciple of the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, Kim is quick to reiterate one of the biggest lessons he learned from his football coach: “As long as you believe in yourself and never give up, you are a winner.”

With that said, you somehow get the feeling that despite the challenging and ambitious schedule, this latest project will be the 26th successful restaurant in Peter Kim’s Yummy Restaurant Group.

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