My name is Becky. This is my story. It's also the story of Anahola Granola.
My Perfect Start In Baking
I was born and raised in the early 50's on Orcas Island and in Seattle. Growing up, my weekly chore was to make cookies for my family, which gave me my perfect start in baking. During my first year of college I launched a birthday cake business, delivering surprise cakes to classmates from their moms and dads. Using the income from this first enterprise, I purchased a one way ticket to Hawaii in the summer of 1969. While in Honolulu, I worked as a trimmer on the graveyard shift for Dole Pineapple Company. It was here I got my first taste of the tropical flavors that came to shape my business.
The First Batch Of My Tasty Granola
I began making my granola in the mid 70's. I lived as a caretaker on a remote private island in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. On my old ship's stove in my log cabin, I cooked the first batch of my tasty granola. It kept me going through my self-imposed isolation, but it was a shame no one else got to taste it.
Five years later, I had my first experience of supplying food to the hospitality industry. I established a horticulture therapy garden for people with disabilities. We grew organic vegetables on the banks of the Snohomish River, selling the produce to nearby restaurants. During this time, I learned how to cut a good deal - those restaurant owners sure knew how to haggle!
Everyone Loved Its Light, Crunchy Sweetness
In 1981, the winds of change blew me thousands of miles west across the ocean, back to Hawaii. As soon as I landed on Kauai, I knew I had discovered my home.
By 1986 I was a single mother with a 2 year old daughter, Malia, to support. Living in a small house tucked into the deep canyon in Anahola Valley on the east side of Kauai, I often served my granola to friends who stopped by. Everyone loved its light, crunchy sweetness. The Christmas of 1986, I made a few pounds of granola, scooped it into hand-labeled zip lock bags, and took them to the local fairs. The owner of a specialty food store loved my granola. She promised to buy it for her store if I could find a certified kitchen.
At Night, We Baked Anahola Granola In The Kitchen Ovens
Anahola Granola's first kitchen was part of a day program for people with disabilities called Rehabilitation Unlimited Kauai. It was a wonderful experience. One young man on the program colored in the rainbow on the label with magic markers. These dedicated employees baked and packed the granola into bags. Then, with Malia strapped into her car seat, I delivered the orders around Kauai.
After three years, when Rehabilitation Unlimited Kauai closed, I put on a tool belt, and built a café in the heart of old Kapaa town. I launched the Deco Gecko Café the summer of 1989. My idea was to sell great espresso - then a new concept on the island - and baked goods. Before long, the menu ranged from pies, cakes, and muffins to prepared salads, entrees and tamales. At night, we baked Anahola Granola in the kitchen ovens. A towheaded 5-year old, Malia was a regular at the café - greeting customers and helping out in the bakery. Today, the building houses Java Kai and is on the main highway in Kapaa.
I Packed My Briefcase With Granola Samples...
I sold the Deco Gecko in 1992. Six months later, Hurricane Iniki devastated the beautiful island of Kauai. In one fell swoop, the tourist industry was destroyed. For three months, the residents of Kauai lived amidst the constant hum of generators as we rebuilt the island. All business on Kauai had come to a screeching halt, including Anahola Granola.
I realized that it would be months before the hotels on Kauai would be back up and running. With my main source of business out of action, I needed new customers. I donned my trusty business suit, packed my briefcase with granola samples, and flew to the outer islands. I met with executive chefs from hotels on Maui, the Big Island and Oahu. They were all sympathetic to the plight of their sister island of Kauai, and I returned home with many new hotel accounts. When the electricity came back on, I fired up my ovens, and began shipping granola off island via cargo plane.
Children And Adults Came... Lured By The Wafting Sweet Golden Smell
From 1992 and 2006, Anahola Granola grew - slowly but surely - based in a small certified kitchen on the property of All Saint’s Church in Kapaa. We were tucked away in the back of a large gym used for hula and other Polynesian dance classes. As class ended, children and adults came to the screen door asking for a taste of Anahola Granola, lured by the wafting sweet golden smell.
In May 2006, we purchased a historic building in Hanapepe Town on the west side of Kauai. Mr. Shimonishi built it in the mid 1930’s, also growing and breeding exotic orchids in his nursery in the backyard. He built the two storey building with bricks he made by hand. The building has housed a feed store, roller skating rink, art gallery, a used book store and wholesale bakeries. Quite a variety!
From May 2006-January 2010, Anahola Granola used half of the downstairs space, renting out the other half to Farsyde Tattoo. In January 2010, bursting at the seams, Anahola Granola took over both spaces, doubling the production area. Making good use of the extra capacity, we began shipping pallets of the 24 oz. Original and Tropical Granola to Costco stores on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. The full product line is now sold in retail stores throughout the islands.
The Recipe for Anahola Granola Has Never Changed
Over the past 33 years, although the recipe for Anahola Granola has never changed, my life certainly has. Malia, my daughter who was 2 years old when the business began, is now 36. She went off to college and moved to New York City to teach in the South Bronx with Teach for America. Later, she moved to Chicago and took an administration position at a high school, where she met Bill. They married in 2008, and I soon became a tutu to her two sons who are now 2 ½ and 3 months old. Today, Malia helps me with marketing and online sales.
In the spring of 1998, I met a man who brought the right mix to my life with Malia. In August 2003, Stewart and I married at my family’s home on Orcas Island. He brought his background in banking to Anahola Granola; we call him the “money man.”
Besides my family, I have many loyal employees that have been with Anahola Granola for over 12 years. I am very grateful to them all.
I Love Sharing My Granola With Others
I still dream of the old, sleepier days of life in Anahola. But building my business, brick by brick, has brought excitement and lessons I could never have imagined. I feel so grateful for the journey, and I love sharing my granola with others. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll get a chance to visit Kauai someday - and enjoy a bowl of my Granola as the sun rises over the Pacific Ocean.