If you have visited Kohala Burger and Taco and have enjoyed the ambiance, the staff, the amazing menu items, the photos..well everything-then you have enjoyed the energy and creativity Chef Cary used to bring it all to life five years ago. What he also brings to the restaurant is core values of authenticity, sustainability, and more.
“Every little detail about Kohala Burger and Taco has a story behind it," Chef Cary stated recently. Choose anything from the restaurant and ask Cary about it and you’ll learn why he chose that one particular item to be in the restaurant.
For example, his recent change to using paper cone cups from plastic cups for free ice water? “We were going through over 200 plastic cups on some days, this meant that thousands of these cups were being taken to our island’s limited capacity landfill, annually. Hawaii County has been progressive in lessening the impact on our environment by implementing a plastic bag ban. We encourage our guests to bring their own water bottle and we will provide ice and filtered water. It’s just like bringing your own reusable bag to the grocery store. One of my core values is sustainability and minimizing our environmental impact to Hawaii.”
Kohala Burger and Taco won the Recycle Hawaii’s coveted “Keeping it Green Hawaii” award in 2012. One way he did this was by mindfully choosing to sell drinks in bottles and cans, which are recycled and kept out of the landfill. The next step is to encourage people to bring in their own water bottles for water and eliminating the waste. For those that forget, we offer an environmentally friendly and compostable Green Stripe eco-cup for .50.
“I base many of my business decisions off the value of sustainability because I know it is my responsibility to make a difference. Besides, those plastic cups were expensive and I have to look at ways to control costs so that we can keep our local talent employed,” Cary explained.
When we asked Chef Cary why he chooses not to serve alcohol at the restaurant, he reveals a very personal story. “I have been sober now for four years almost to the day. I don't push my values on anyone and we allow people to bring in their own alcohol. In fact, we provide a frozen mug to enjoy your beer with your meals. My personal story of growing up in the party hey-day of South Lake Tahoe and my love of getting people together for celebrations eventually led to difficult times in my life. I still enjoy a great party, but I no longer need to drink in order to enjoy my time. I try to lead by example and empathize with people struggling with their own issues. Now I can help get someone else sober by providing a safe and sober work place. Providing an opportunity to work with me can help turn their life around.”
So, on your next visit, look around at the walls of Kohala Burger and Taco and you will see stories behind the stories. You can also look behind the counter and say “Aloha!” to Chef Cary. Ask him about his menu items or where ingredients comes from and why. His answers will show you his value system for integrity, hard work, fair play, taking care of his staff and vendors. It all comes together when you walk in the door at Kohala Burger and Taco, you don’t just get a great burger or taco, you get an experience!