Customers Bring Business Back To Life
When Jessica and Kalani Kamana’o moved to Kapolei from the east side, they had a difficult time finding a place that served tasty, quality acai bowls. So Jess started making them herself. Her friends and family loved her twist on the standard acai bowl – hers includes a wide range of toppings – so she started selling them out of her home last October.
“From there, it just took off. It went crazy,” recalls Jess.
The business, now called HICravings (formerly Jess Da Best Acai Bowls), quickly drew in a slew of customers to her home or other drop sites. The wait could be more than an hour, but customers didn’t seem to care. But because Jess and Kalani were operating out of their own kitchen rather than a commercial one, they were shut down by the state Department of Health in February. For a while, they weren’t sure about the fate of their homegrown business.
But the couple was determined, and after weeks of scouting potential venues and raising funds, HICravings opened its first store earlier this month at 533 Manawai St. unit 304 (bottom level) in Kapolei – complete with a commercial kitchen. They did have a few hitches in this store opening as they had not yet been fitted with a working refrigerator so they opted to get a freeze room rental to get things up and running instead of delaying their opening any further.
“Since the first day, we have had a line out the door,” Jess says, adding that people begin lining up well before the store opens. “We were so anxious to get back to serving everybody.”
These dedicated customers were crucial in HICravings landing a permanent location. It was their support via a crowdfunding campaign that allowed Jess to raise enough money to rent the space.
Acai bowls standardly come with banana, granola, and maybe strawberries and blueberries, and while HICravings’ bowls are brimming with all of those ingredients, options also include mango, watermelon, kiwi, pineapple, vanilla or chocolate chips, specialty honey and homemade cookie dough. (That might sound like a strange combination, but it all goes together incredibly well, in my opinion. The cookie dough, especially, is a surprising treat.) In addition to acai, HICravings also offers pitaya (dragon fruit). All fruit is cut fresh daily. Prices start at $7.50.
If its customers’ dedication is any indication, HICravings does seem to have a downright addictive product. Jess and Kalani report that they have customers drive in from town, North Shore and Kailua. Mary Miyamoto, one of Jess’ early customers who now works in the shop, says that after trying HICravings for the first time several months ago, she “had to have it again and again.”
“It was just so delicious that I wanted it every day,” says Miyamoto. “I am just hooked.”
Call 561-9386, or visit facebook.com/JessDaBestAcaiBowls or instagram.com/jessdabestacaibowls. HICravings is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. Catering also is available.