‘Uala Leaf Café opening soon in Hale ‘Ākoakoa

F15_09_Pua_cafe_UalaLeaf_Patch_aPlans are underway to open a lunchroom on the first floor of Hale ‘Ākoakoa. Students enrolled in Hi‘ilaniwai Food Service Innovation Training will prepare and serve lunch for WCC students, faculty, staff and the general public from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The new food service training program is named after Hi‘ilaniwai stream flowing from Pu‘ukeahiaKahoe, the peak that towers above campus. Hi‘ilaniwai was one of the three wives of Kāne, the god of water.

“Hi‘ilaniwai students receive on-the-job training in the ‘Uala Leaf Cafe and qualified graduates will move into restaurants or food service careers,” said workforce development coordinator Charlene Akina. “Hi‘ilaniwai’s mission is to provide basic education and technical skills training in food preparation and production. Students will also gain an understanding of food science and nutrition in addition to culinary skills.”

Designing and equipping a fully licensed training kitchen is no small project, and kitchen manager and food service coordinator Mike Roth is immersed in all the tasks such as generating bid requests to vendors for commercial refrigerators, prep tables, stoves and ovens.

“We plan to open the ‘Uala Leaf Café by spring 2016,” said Roth.

A campus food service survey was conducted in April with questions on hours of operation, menu choices and prices. Based on the results, ‘Uala Leaf Café will serve hot lunches daily.

The program is entirely self-supporting and does not access any outside funding.

Students, faculty and staff can look forward to a grand opening and blessing in the spring.

Until then, meals and snacks will continue to be available at the Hub coffee shop in Hale La‘akea and the ‘Uahi Island Grill food truck parked near the library.

by Flora Obayashi, Special to Ka ‘Ohana