On Jan. 20, the Uala Leaf Cafe celebrated its one-year anniversary with complimentary cake for diners. It also increased menu prices.
“We decided that at this point and time it would be good to increase the prices,” said Charlene Akina, WCC workforce development coordinator. “We are trying to become a self-sustaining business, so we needed to increase revenue.”
The cafe made $100,000 in revenue its first year. The new price increases affect the whole menu. Daily menu items are now 25 cents more while weekly specials are 50 cents more.
Mike Roth, former head chef of operations whose last day was also Jan. 20, said he doesn’t think that the increased prices will affect business.
“It will help with the profit margin,” he said. “Students will still be able to get a real meal for under $10. Our menu is campus friendly.”
The menu consists of a variety of options ranging from local favorites like spam musubi to vegetarian options like garden hummus wrap. Options change daily. The café serves 70-130 meals each day.
“Our chicken adobo, roast pork with caramelized onions, garlic chicken, mostly the local stuff sells big,” Roth said. “We always have vegetarian items to provide as well.”
Roth had been with the Career and Community Education’s Hi‘ilaniwai Food Service Training Program and Uala Leaf Café since its beginnings and is credited with much of the team’s success. He is moving on to the Paradise Bay Resort in Kāne‘ohe but plans to come back and volunteer when he can.
Many students were not aware of the increased prices but said they didn’t mind the added cost.
“The prices are pretty reasonable here,” said Vincent Ron, who eats at the café three to four times a week. “In my opinion, this place has decent food compared to other places I’ve seen.”
Ron said his favorite meal is a grilled cheese with a spam musubi or apples.
According to Akina, the café is trying to find ways to improve the customer experience. It is planning to expand its already diverse menu this year and is considering bringing in an ATM (all sales are cash) and possibly extending serving times and serving breakfast in the future.
Akina is proud of how far Uala Leaf Café has come and is grateful to all those who have helped the business.
“We thank you all for our first year,” she said. “Our primary goal is to serve you folks. The students, faculty and community.”
Uala Leaf Café- is open Monday through Friday and serves lunch from 11 a.m through 1:30 p.m. It is located on the ground floor of Hale ‘Ākoakoa.
by Leighland Tagawa , Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter