Surfing Goat Dairy for sale

Retirement on the horizon for owners - Cowabunga: goats seek new owner

Ana Izaguirre of Los Angeles feeds a goat at Surfing Goat Dairy in Kula on Friday morning. The agritourism business is up for sale and the owners are seeking a buyer who will continue the popular farm and food destination. -- The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

KULA — Owners of a local brand that put Maui goats on the map have announced that they will be selling the successful Upcountry business, land, infrastructure, equipment and livestock.

After nearly two decades at the helm of Surfing Goat Dairy, an award-winning goat cheese company nestled on the slopes of Haleakala, owners Thomas and Eva Kafsack are retiring. The couple is seeking a buyer who will continue the agritourism business that features cheese, chocolate truffles, tours and merchandise, such as goat milk soaps and T-shirts.

“We are both now nearly 70 years old,” Thomas Kafsack said Friday. The affable entrepreneur, who has three adult children in New York and in Germany and a handful of grandkids, also said he and his wife are dealing with health challenges.

The dairy, located on 42.18 acres off Omaopio Road in Lower Kula, is on the market for $7,990,000, an Island Sotheby’s International Realty listing says. The price includes a three-bedroom, two-bathroom farmhouse; farm, dairy and restaurant equipment; a 70-by-40-foot metal barn; a restaurant area and a retail shop; fruit orchard; irrigated pastureland; and 155 French Alpine and Saanen goats, among other items.

Surfing Goat Dairy produces more than 50 flavored cheeses and truffles, with many sold on-site, online and in retail, restaurant and hotel locations on Maui and on the Mainland, according to the company.

Surfing Goat Dairy staff member Jacki Shepard talks with a customer Friday morning as a line starts to form at the restaurant counter. Deli items, cheesecake, truffles and other items are served at the Kula location, which put Maui goat products on the map. -- The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

The family-friendly dairy, with its restaurant, gift shop and petting zoo, attracts about 60,000 visitors a year, Kafsack said. This year’s numbers are already 10 percent ahead of the annual average, according to the owner. On Wednesday, the dairy shop broke a single-day revenue record for a non-Christmas week.

“That was such a huge bang,” Kafsack said.

When the Kafsacks moved from their native Germany to Maui at the turn of the century, it was not with plans to start a goat cheese farm. Kafsack had recently sold a successful software company and was doing remote work from Maui. He and his wife would often windsurf, dive and surf during that time, he said. The two loved to host guests, and they purchased the Upcountry ag land in 1999 with the aim of starting a bed-and-breakfast.

Then, in early 2000, the couple bought 40 does and two bucks from the Big Island. One of the bucks got loose in transit.

“The result, five months later, they all were pregnant from that one night,” Kafsack said, laughing. “We were not planning to have them bred because we at that time had no milk stand, no power, nothing.”

Thomas Kafsack

One hundred fifty-five goats and nearly two decades later, the company has garnered 18 national cheese awards for 18 different flavors.

“We are very thankful for how our locals have supported us,” Kafsack said. “We have many local families who come here all the time. We couldn’t have done this without the local support.”

Kafsack said he and his wife plan to remain on Maui after the sale but will travel to the Mainland and to Germany to visit family. Cultivating a love for agriculture also will continue, he said, and the couple plans to still visit schools to talk about the importance of farming.

As a former teacher, Kafsack said he values international and Mainland interns at his dairy, and he hopes students near and far can continue to learn from Surfing Goat Dairy.

“That’s important that the kids learn more about ag and ag tourism, too,” he said. “We need young people to take over farms.”

Ana Izaguirre of Los Angeles takes a selfie of friends and family at the Surfing Goat Dairy in Kula on Friday. The dairy, which was bustling with visitors Friday morning, recently went up for sale. The local owners, who are planning their retirement, are seeking a buyer to continue the well-known agritourism business. -- The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

The longtime business owner did say he may have one more venture in the works.

“I collect things,” he said with a smile. “My wife said I have to open a shop and sell at least half of my things.

“I’ll probably start with my 2,000 tiki mugs.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.


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