Da Kitchen garners Neighbor Award

Da Kitchen is a state winner of the Restaurant Neighbor Awards, presented by the National Restaurant Association to recognize outstanding community service among the nation’s restaurants, the Hawaii Restaurant Association has announced.

Da Kitchen has locations in Kahului and Kihei. Its owners are Mariah Brown and Les Tomita.

The other state winner is Papa John’s Hawaii, with multiple locations on Oahu.

The National Restaurant Association, with the award’s founding partner, American Express, created the Restaurant Neighbor Award 15 years ago to raise awareness about the restaurant industry’s contributions in local communities across the country and to inspire other restaurants to do the same and even more.


NEW STORE. Awakening in Paradise, a bookstore, boutique and gallery, has opened near Longs Drugs in Kihei at 1215 S. Kihei Road next to Maui Brick Oven.

It is a sister store of Lotus Heart Books and Gifts in Haiku. The new store includes visionary art, colorful clothing, jewelry, crystals, music, incense and the art of Lavahna Taylor, “artist in residence” and will offer revolving exhibitions of other local artists.

The store also will offer classes, workshops, intuitive and tarot card readings, beginning meditation, aura photography, monthly psychic fairs and community events.

The store is the sixth created and operated by Judy Levy, a Reiki master and interdenominational minister, according to a news release.


WRITER WINS AWARDS. Local writer and University of Hawaii Maui College creative writing teacher Paul Wood recently won two writing awards.

He was part of a group that took first place in the Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2012 awards for the sports reporting category. His essay “Surfing the Stratosphere” was published in the October/November issue of Hana Hou magazine.

In May, the Hawaii Ecotourism Association named Wood “Travel Writer of the Year 2013.”