When COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in early 2020, visitor sales stopped, local sales slowed (if not halted), and many businesses hit the brakes as they faced a new reality. Our islands’ food trucks were no exception to the pandemic’s hard-hitting impact.
“Prior to COVID-19, we had hoped to start hiring help, but the pandemic put a halt on our plans,” said Tim and Kai Bachard of Kai’s Kitchen and Da Taco Stand. “We thought the best way to survive was to stay open – which we did throughout 2020 and now through 2021 – at our main location (Island Tacos, Haiku). We also extended our work hours and did a little bit of radio advertising to let people know we were open.”
“We lost 80 percent of our income when COVID-19 hit,” said Kealii Eldredge of Taste of Aloha 808. “But we made a choice to do whatever we needed to do to get by. We stayed open, we participated in community events like the Maui Sunday Market, and continued to look for opportunities for our business. Today, we feel blessed to still be in service.”
Devin and Cristina Pagaduan of Pastele House shared, “If anything, this past year taught us to be flexible. We made many changes in order for us to sustain our business. We reduced our food truck hours, lowered our prices to help our local community, and implemented safety measures to keep us and our customers safe.”
Despite the challenges, these hardworking entrepreneurs continued to give back to help others in need by participating in programs like the County of Maui’s Feeding Maui Nui: AlohaPlates2GO.
This feeding initiative enables eligible seniors 60 years or older, spouses of any age, and grandparents 55 years and over who are raising grandchildren on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai to receive free vouchers that they can turn in for meals at designated food trucks. The project is coordinated by the County of Maui Department of Housing and Human Services Office on Aging with support from Maui Food Technology Center. For information, visit www.mauifoodtechnology.org/feeding-maui-nui.
“Feeding Maui Nui has been a win-win for our community,” said the Bachards. “Our islands’ ‘ohana receive a free hot meal, the income helps our business, and it supports the County’s efforts to ensure our islands’ food security. Yet, it’s the emotional connection that’s been truly heartwarming. Sometimes our staff are the only social contact these people have. By us being there with a smile (behind the mask) and being someone to talk with – a need other than food – we feel like we’re lending a helping hand and that’s satisfying!”
Eldredge shared, “We’re very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Feeding Maui Nui project. It feels great to help others and to talk story with our kupuna. Our hope is that we made their day, just as they did ours.”
“Sometimes it’s not always about the cash flow coming in, sometimes it’s about what we are able to give back,” said the Pagaduans. “Serving weekly free keiki meals and discounted Kupuna meals gives us a purpose to get out there in the community every week. With time, we know that we can return to the hustle and bustle of busy days. For now, we appreciate the simple things – share aloha, go slow and be kind.
FOOD TRUCKS CONTACT INFORMATION:
KAI’S KITCHEN / DA TACO STAND
Location: Island Tacos in Haiku, 810 Haiku Road,
Open: Everyday, 11am - 8pm
Location: UH Maui College
Open: Thursdays, 11am - 4pm
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TASTE OF ALOHA 808
Location: 177 S. Kihei Road
Open: Thursday & Saturday, 11am - 6pm
You can also find these food trucks at the Maui Sunday Market in the Kahului Shopping Center parking lot 4pm - 8pm on Sundays. www.MauiSundayMarket.com