A Lesson in Sustainability from Via Gelato

The gelateria opens its second location at Ward Village with a socially conscious message.
A mix of banana fudge and Fierce Chocolate in a ceramic bowl created by Via Gelato owner Melissa Bow. Her second location at ward village opened this month.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


At home, Melissa Bow has the schedule of bulky item pickups on her fridge.


“Have you noticed that there’s so much bulky trash?” says the owner of Via Gelato, sitting in her new 1,000-square-foot shop at Ward Village, which opened this month.


She’s been grabbing chairs from the curbside and fixing, reupholstering and painting them on her lānai to use here and in her original shop in Kaimukī, which she opened in 2014. She even built the furniture in her original location and made the elaborate tile display at the counter in the Ward shop using leftover bathroom tile from a renovation job at home.


Bow repurposed discarded chairs to use in her new shop at Ward Village.


The decorative counter Bow made from leftover bathroom tiles. This cost her around $100 in materials.


For anyone who’s known Bow for years—like me—you know she’s resourceful and reuses whatever she can find. She literally did the build-out of the food truck she first used in 2011 to sell her artisan gelato herself. She even uses off-grade fruits for her sorbet and gelato flavors.


For the past four months, she’s been using ceramic cups and bowls she’s turned herself at the Hawai‘i Potters’ Guild in her shop. Bow has had to make hundreds of them because customers are always throwing them away by accident. Or taking them home.


She’s also swapping out plastic spoons for metal ones. Those often get thrown away, too.


Some of the hundreds of cups and bowls Bow has made to use in her shop.


Bow serving gelato in one of the ceramic bowls she made herself.


But Bow has already noticed the difference in the amount of trash at both shops. Instead of 10 bags of trash a night, she’s only throwing away three.


“If you think about it, you use one spoon or one cup for maybe 30 minutes, but they live forever,” Bow says. “We’re really trying to get people to make better choices than just living through habits.”


The second location is in the space vacated by ZPizza. It serves similar flavors as the Kaimukī shop—Fierce Chocolate, li hing guava, coffee, peanut butter cookie—with seasonal favorites including pumpkin spice latte and peppermint chocolate chip.


Just don’t throw away the ceramic bowls or metal spoons.


Ward Village, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 376-0571, viagelatohawaii.com