Eat the Street Has a New Home at Kewalo Basin
Don’t miss the grand opening on Friday, Aug. 28!
Photos: Odeelo Dayondon
After nearly five years of operating from a parking lot in Kaka‘ako, mobile food truck events company Street Grindz is settling into a new home at Kewalo Basin.
Named “Makers & Tasters,” it’s a 60,000-foot total renovation of the old Fisherman’s Wharf spot that transforms the space into an elaborate community marketplace, with space for 10 to 15 food trucks and custom-built retail vendors, waterfront booth and picnic-style seating, a 3,000-square-foot seating deck with an outdoor bar, a projection screen for films, a stage area for live performances, permanent bathroom trailers, green space for bocce ball and an oversize Connect Four game, and 80 dedicated parking stalls.
It’s scheduled to open this month, paperwork and construction permitting, but there’s already a soft open with a regularly rotating selection of four to eight food trucks parked in a circle, and picnic tables available for dining and hanging out. Owner Poni Askew admits it was difficult at first to “half-open” the new location.
“I can be very particular,” says Askew with a laugh. “It’s just that I have a very strong vision of how the final space will look, but opening early has let us create a sort of testing ground.”
The first week, Street Grindz: Kewalo had a turnout of close to 1,000 people a day, generating buzz from foodie bloggers and getting good reviews from the more than 250 food vendors who work with Street Grindz. A permanent location with regular hours means they can reach new audiences: employees on lunch, families who live nearby and tourists from Waikīkī. It provides a training ground for graduates of the “Street Grindz Institute,” an educational program on how to start a mobile food business.
Working together can create more opportunities. For example, if Askew asks local food vendors what vegetables they use the most, she can then approach Hawai‘i farmers with vendors committed to purchasing from them. “We create a trickle-out effect that everyone can benefit from,” she says.
She adds, “None of this is rocket science or anything new, it’s about collaborating to creating an ecosystem.”