STAR-BULLETIN / JULY 2000
Lines are constant as patrons stock up on the bakery's signature coco-puffs.
Propane shortage to shut Liliha Bakery
Employees are urged to use their vacation time as the popular shop faces a temporary closure
A statewide propane shortage could cool Liliha Bakery's ovens as early as tonight.
The popular patisserie on North Kuakini Street in Nuuanu has already canceled hundreds of cake and pastry orders for this week, and is warning customers to expect at least a two-week closure.
"I'm going to cry," exclaimed Sherrie Fujioka, after hearing news of the bakery's closure yesterday as she left with a bag full of goodies.
The Waipahu resident says she drives into town every week to pick up a supply of pastries.
"The pastries are so good," she said, tapping the plastic top of her chiffon cake. "Nobody makes it like them."
The bakery, which opened in 1950, is the latest business to get hit by the state's propane shortage, spurred after power to the Chevron refinery in Kapolei was knocked out on Feb. 21.
Propane has not been produced since, prompting hospitals, schools, hotels and thou- sands of residents and business owners to conserve or run out.
Chevron spokesman Albert Chee could not be reached yesterday, but has previously declined to say when propane production might be back on-line.
Christine Murai, the operations manager at Liliha Bakery, said Chevron has told her that the refinery is expected to be running again by Friday.
But she is expecting at least a week-long lag until the bakery's 2,000-gallon propane tank is filled, with so many others statewide running low. Her 72 employees have been encouraged to use their vacation time during the bakery's closure so they can continue to get paid.
Murai said the bakery will either close tonight or Tuesday night, depending on how much propane they have. The bakery is regularly closed Mondays.
"It's really hard on our employees," Murai said, adding that the bakery will also lose thousands of dollars during the closure. "This is an unexpected shutdown."
She also said the bakery has done whatever it could since it heard about the propane shortage to conserve. They've cut down the number of products they make, baking only the most popular pastries and cakes. And they've used only two of their three ovens.
This weekend, the bakery started canceling orders and letting customers know about the closure.
Since word got out, lines at the bakery have been constant as residents stock up on the small bake shop's signature coco-puffs and other sugary confections.
"This is the bakery of choice for coco-puffs," said Beverly Okada, as she walked out of the bakery with a boxful.
Kendall Gorospe, who is visiting from Kauai over the next week, said he always stops at Liliha Bakery when he's in Honolulu to get pastries and cakes.
When he heard about the closure, he ordered an extra box of coco-puffs to bring home with him.