It's a Maalaea Harbor landmark, alright. But I will say this right up front -the Baja tacos and the pastries made in house take it out of this world.
The building that houses the new Maalaea General Store & Cafe has been a harbor staple since 1910, until it closed seven years ago.
"Proprietor Jimmy Uno and his mom, Grace, were really famous for their hot dogs," says the landmark store's new owner, Dominick Marino. "I'm in construction and so I just restored the building. I hired Ed O'Malley as general manager and he runs all of the other aspects."
Husband-and-wife Ed and Kathy O’Malley do not have a microwave on premises and use as many fresh ingredients as possible.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
But before Ed came on board, Dominick had his work cut out for him. Located across the street from the harbor, the store is in the Shoreline Management Area, with tons of strict rules and regulations.
"I found all of the pictures from the old Sea Flight days and it was my intent from the start to restore it properly," he says. "We had a guy making windows for three months. We redid the parapet that had to be anchored in the cement floor so it wouldn't go flying in the wind like a sail. I must credit Stanley Solomillo from the county planning department for keeping it historically accurate."
The result is admirable. Ed says opening day was Aug. 13. "Now, we're open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas."
* Where: Located across the street from the Coast Guard Station at Maalaea Harbor. (Parking lot is in the back).
* Hours: Open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
* For more details or take out: Call 242-5900.
A former New Yorker with deli experience, Ed also owned and operated two delis in Colorado and managed Colleen's in Haiku and Rodeo General Store in Makawao. "My wife, Kathy, also works here," he says.
As for breakfast, two bakers work there and from scratch do all of the breads and pastries, including fresh blueberry scones, lemon bars, sticky buns, focaccia and hoagie rolls. There is also a full coffee bar with lattes, and mochas, etc., along smoothies made with fresh fruits and berries. Health nuts will find acai energy bowls.
"Besides a pastry case, we also have a display case with grab 'n go items such as egg croissants and our three-pound burrito, which is paralyzing."
Ed says the store's baker, Patrick Brault, worked at Mama's Fish House and was the one who designed the famous Tahitian Pearl dessert there. Brault's family owned a bakery in Tahiti where he trained, and he also worked at Longhi's and the former Maui Prince Hotel.
Chef Dan Ferron worked at some high-end Mexican restaurants in San Diego and makes all of the salsas in house. "He's a perfectionist," says Ed. "His biggest seller is the crispy Baja taco, and he does grilled fish and chicken tacos and quesadillas with roasted veggies and blackened fish and chicken, too."
The team also bakes rolls and breads for retail sales and uses only Boarshead meats with no nitrites or phosphates. Salads are plentiful. "We're a hands-on deli as we slice it by the pound for you to take out."
From the grill come the classic Monte Cristo sandwich and the New Orleans po' boy with shrimp. People are raving about the bacon bleu burger with chili-lime mayo and the housemade vegan burger.
"One aspect of running a historic store is we still offer the old-time red hot dogs as part of the nostalgia and local plates every day, from chicken katsu to chow fun to teriyaki beef," says Ed. "You may sit indoors in the art gallery or on the shady lanai."