Honolulu Bakers Launch Campaign To Save Agnes’ Malassadas
Kawehi Haug and Kim Potter of Let Them Eat Cupcakes are crowdfunding to bring back the beloved Kailua bakery.
A box of malassadas from Agnes’ Portuguese Bake Shop, which closed in January. A pair of Honolulu bakers are planning to bring them back.
Photo: Steve Czerniak
When I found out Agnes’ Portuguese Bake Shop in Kailua was closing last month after nearly 50 years in business, I almost cried.
I couldn’t imagine the world without Agnes’ malassadas, the perfectly crispy-on-the-outside fried balls of dough made to order and reminiscent of the way my family—I’m part Portuguese—would make.
Well, thankfully, neither could Kawehi Haug and Kim Potter, veteran bakers and and, yes, Portuguese, too.
With the blessing of Agnes’ owner Non deMello, the pair, who run Let Them Eat Cupcakes, launched a Kickstarter campaign to save the Kailua bakery—and, in particular, those malassadas.
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“We found out Agnes’ was closing on Twitter,” Haug says. “As born and bred Kailuans, we were super bummed—and we were shocked. Agnes’ had always been part of our lives. It’s a Kailua staple and it had never occurred to us that it wouldn’t always just be there. And then it wasn’t.”
Both Haug and Potter went to visit deMello to see if there was anything they could do. Living in a world without Agnes’ Portuguese Bake Shop, in their minds, just wasn’t an option. They found out that deMello closed the bakery simply because he was tired of the daily grind and hadn’t found the right people to turn it over to.
“Then one of us blurted out that we had to do something,” Haug says. “Agnes’ just couldn’t go away. So, long story short … we sort of came up with a plan for Agnes’ to be revived.”
Haug and Potter are hoping to raise $55,000 through Kickstarter to get a food truck from which to sell the bakery’s signature goods. (Agnes’ no longer has the lease for the building on Ho‘olai Street.)
“The bakery sold about 150 dozen malassadas a day. That’s a lot of people who want those malassadas!” Haug says. “With a truck, we can be anywhere in Kailua at any given time.”
Long term, Haug wants to open a brick-and-mortar bakery in Kailua, redesigned and refreshed, an “inviting place where we can continue the Agnes’ legacy.”
But for now, it’s all about bringing the malassadas back. (Let Them Eat Cupcakes fans, don’t worry. The pair don’t have plans to close that bakery.)
“The thing about Agnes’ that makes it so special is that Non was making malassadas and sweet bread and everything else the way our Portuguese grannies made it—by hand,” Haug says. And contrary to what people might think, malassadas aren’t just fluffy sugar doughnuts. They are heavier and more rustic than the traditional doughnut, and Agnes’ malassadas are the only ones in the state that are the most Portuguese in the traditional sense. And as local Portuguese girls who come from proudly Portuguese families, the culinary heritage aspect of Agnes’ is something we really value.”
To learn more or to support this Kickstarter campaign, click here.
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