The long-delayed by everything from rainy weather to road construction, planning, and other uncertainties, opens its doors to the public on Thursday, Sept. 26th, 2019. The market will host a blessing by a Hawaiian cultural practitioner at 10 a.m. The store will be open daily from 7am to 10pm.
Lighthouse Village neighborhood center will now be known as “Ahuimanu” Hawaiian for “a gathering place for the people.” Ahuimanu’s anchor will be the Kilauea Market + Café, a new store concept developed by the Sullivan Family of Companies, parent of the Foodland supermarket chain. In addition to grocery, meat, seafood, wine, beer, bakery, produce and other offerings typical of a food market, the new outlet will emphasize prepared foods and feature a beer and wine bar, as well as a gourmet coffee and pastry outlet. There will be seating for 70 customers.
Other tenants that have signed up for space at Ahuimanu include Grande’s Gems Hawaii, Island Soap & Candle Works, Kai Bar Coffee Roasters, Kauai Boba & BBQ, the Kauai Government Employees Credit Union, Kauai North Shore Animal Clinic, Shipwrecked Kauai lifestyle boutique, and Wyland Galleries. Lease negotiations for an anchor fine dining restaurant and perhaps one other sit-down eatery, are reportedly underway. In addition to those tenants, Gather Federal Credit Union plans to build a separate new Kilauea branch facility immediately adjacent to the shopping center. The project recently won Planning Commission approval. No completion date has been made public.
The market occupies 14,000 of Ahuimanu’s 43,000 square feet of space. Other spaces include a community meeting room and what developers have described as “plain vanilla” spaces that might serve as transition quarters, for example, for food truck operators that want to evolve into brick-and-mortar restaurants. The company said the shopping center will create the equivalent of 100 new jobs in Kilauea. All told, the new shopping center has been six years in the making, with numerous delays in the planning process and one extended break after the Sullivan companies decided to reconceptualize the original plan for the market, which would have been much like a supermarket. Instead, it will be what a Foodland representative characterized as a “grocerant,” combining the functions of a market and a restaurant. Supermarket chains have been moving heavily into in-store food service for several years and Kilauea Market + Café promises to be the most recent chapter in this evolution.
Construction originally began in 2016 but ran into serious weather delays, especially in 2018 when the North Shore was struck by historic rains that washed out portions of Kuhio Highway west of Hanalei. In all, the project lost 84 workdays to weather-related causes in 2018. Opening of the shopping center was also supposed to coincide with the completion of a new access road to Kilauea, originally planned to divert traffic from the already congested Kilauea Road that runs through the middle of town. Negotiations to secure zoning changes to facilitate the donation of land for the road appeared to have succeeded, but the Hawaii Department of Transportation eventually decided to delay the project until after 2020. Both the state agency and Kauai County’s Department of Public Works have said the backlog of delayed maintenance on existing roads makes it impossible to consider new construction projects. The county is in the midst of resurfacing Kilauea Road, though it is not known whether the paving operation will conclude by the time the shopping center opens.