Small local caterer to break new ground at groundbreaking
IT'S not every day that Hawaii's largest shopping center breaks ground for a 200,000-square-foot, nationally known department store like Nordstrom.
It's also not every day that a local small business is invited to serve the mayor, the lieutenant governor's wife and the presidents of General Growth Properties and Nordstrom's full-line stores.
So, getting hired to cater the groundbreaking ceremony to feed those and other dignitaries has got to be kind of a big deal for Kaimuki's Ginniberries Inc., right?
"It's exciting for us. It's exciting to be part of Ala Moana's growth," said Michelle Nakaya, president.
"General Growth has really brought in a lot of great vendors. It's fun to be part of this. It is something we would like to do more of -- more corporate ... business," she said.
It is the first time General Growth has hired Ginniberries, but officials knew of its track record from special events the company catered for high-end retailers including Prada, Ralph Lauren and Dooney and Burke. Nakaya will also cater an upcoming Bally function.
Ginniberries caters, provides wedding coordination and personal chef services.
"My business has been word-of-mouth," Nakaya said. Eighty percent of her business is weddings, for which she offers coordination and connections as well as catering. She believes her contemporary presentations, "how my staff operates and other things that really make the event stand out" caught the eye of the retail industry-folk.
The high-falutin' guest list doesn't make her nervous, she said.
"You know, whoever is at the event, we always want to do our best presentation and for our service, for sure, to even outweigh the food."
She and a handful of key people are the core of the business, but for functions she will hire staff through other catering companies and from a pool of regulars, depending on the needs of the event.
"They're not all in the restaurant industry, they're not burned out and it's fun for them. ... They do really well with customer service," Nakaya said.
Nakaya started out as a personal chef and used her pre-med training to focus on healthful dishes for her clients, addressing special dietary needs. She also did a lot of cocktail parties when she was starting out, a service she still provides. For nondrinkers she offers tea parties.
Personal chef services now represent about 10 percent of her business, "but I'm looking to re-grow that."
The menu Ginniberries will serve tomorrow morning to 100 dignitaries and other guests includes smoked salmon canapes on marbled rye with capers and dill; diced potato and sausage on bamboo skewers; fresh fruit tartlets; coffee; lychee iced tea and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Ala Moana is hosting the event and has ordered lei, put an official program together and commissioned o'o sticks, traditional Hawaiian digging implements, from renowned local artisan Kaili Chun.
Getting back to the food, though, it's not that Ala Moana Center's restaurant-tenants are chopped liver or anything.
"We were looking at who could serve breakfast," said Director of Tourism Erica Neves. Catering an outside event for a 10 a.m. breakfast for 100 people would likely not have been feasible for them, she said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org