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The one that got away

Dear Mrs. P: Of all the Kalihi icons I’ve covered, yours is one of the best — which is what makes this so hard

Posted February 28, 2012 by Mari Taketa

Really, Mrs. P? I mean, I appreciate that you called and told me how you felt. But at 1:00 in the morning?

I wish you’d called earlier, like maybe after the first or second time I stopped in hoping to meet you, unsuccessfully, and left my card. I understand it’s hard, the hours you work, so I tried calling three other times when I was told you’d be in, only you weren’t.

So I stopped by a third time, at 9:30 one night, to tell you what I’d told two very sweet and helpful employees: That I’m doing a series on old-time Kalihi eateries, and knowing that you’ve been there for decades and your stuff is so good, I was hoping to feature your story. Only I missed you again.

That’s when you called me at 1 in the morning. I apologize for my voice being raspy. I was actually asleep. But I got your point: You’re a small business. You’re running at capacity in a tiny space and your workers are working as hard as they can. You’re not interested in being featured.

I totally respect that. And I can get past the 1 a.m. thing, which really drove home your point and was a first in my 15 years of journalism.

What’s making this so hard for me is the value-to-buzz ratio. Yours is off the charts. Most people have never heard of you, and yet your cookies are light and impossibly tall — a good three-quarters of an inch — and lovingly rolled in crunchy pecans when pecans aren’t even the star. Your fruity bread loaves are topped with the thinnest layer of icing, a finishing detail that holds in moisture and flavor. And I haven’t even mentioned your signature items.

You care. It shows. You put more famous competitors to shame. And I can’t tell anyone.

It goes against so much of what I am. When I come across a worthy find I want to spread the word: that for those who don’t yet know, there’s a happy corner of the universe where thanks to skilled and loving hands, taste buds will be rewarded.

It goes against nothing in my grain to quash a story that’s not worth telling. I’ve done it many times. I’m not out to hurt any small business, including yours, even if that means not trumpeting your praises, even if that goes against my grain.

I wanted to tell you all this, Mrs. P, because I didn’t get a chance during our short conversation. My thoughts at that hour were running around trying to collect themselves, and you didn’t seem in a talkative mood anyway.

That’s all I wanted to say.

P.S. I’m coming back for those cookies.


  1. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:39 am

    EO:  Is this Paul’s Bakery?

  2. Surfingat50
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Is this guess the bakery?

  3. macnut
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:55 am

    What an odd reaction from a business owner. If you don’t want to sell more product, why are you in business? for fun? It may be a matter of not being able to handle more business, which would make sense, but that is an incredible problem to have. *shrug*

  4. nonstopmari
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:28 am

     @Annoddah_Dave can’t say :)

  5. nonstopmari
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

     @Surfingat50 nope, just an open letter. and if anybody guesses right, i still have to keep my promise :)

  6. nonstopmari
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

     @macnut i know. i’ve been over this in my head many times. maybe a generational thing?

  7. fzuckit
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm


  8. turkfontaine
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    sometimes you catch more flies with honey, sometimes with vinegar. sometimes you gotta mix them together. remember Spartacus? “in one hand the whip. in the other the cup” 

  9. fzuckit
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    kam bakery?  taro donuts!

  10. nonstopmari
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

     @turkfontaine vinegar? u taste vinegar? ;)

  11. nonstopmari
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

     @fzuckit still can’t say :)

  12. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    EO:  there is only one other bakery that I know in Kalihi and that is Jesse’s.  But fzuckit hit it with Kam cause that is the only one where people have to line up.

  13. nonstopmari
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:06 pm

     @Annoddah_Dave i’ll tell anybody who asks me in person. but i promised i wdn’t put the story on the internet.

  14. 808guy
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:42 am

    P is for Paez? I enjoy the hole in the wall aspect but it is boggling why someone wouldn’t want to share something so good.

  15. nonstopmari
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

     @808guy i know, right? re ur question, can’t say!!!

  16. EurekaGal
    Posted March 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Oooohhh. So TANTALIZING. And on SO MANY levels. The mystery. The quality. The fact that it’s all-so-glutenous and I couldn’t have it even if I knew where it was and happened to be in Honolulu. This sucks.

About Mari Taketa

Mari Taketa is a dedicated eater who's as opinionated as she is hungry. She covered everything from neighborhood mom-and-pop places to ethnic eateries to fine dining restaurants on Honolulu's dining scene for Metromix Honolulu and The Honolulu Advertiser's TGIF. Before that, she ate her way through Vietnam, Scotland and Japan, where she lived, traveled or worked, after recovering from a journalism career that included stints as editor-in-chief of Hawaii Business magazine and reporter and editor at The Associated Press. Her goals are to always be hungry for more, and to always want to know what's around the next corner.

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