What the Heck?
COURTESY MARK AND BARBARA ZIGMOND
Mark and Barbara Zigmond are former financial analysts from New Jersey who now own a colorful little restaurant, Pele's Other Garden. CLICK FOR LARGE
On Lanai, only the fence takes any time
Zip Code 96763
: With a few hours to kill on a Friday afternoon, I walked the streets, taking the pulse of Lanai City, population 3,164.
There wasn't much pulse. Lanai City is still laid out on the grid James Dole drew up in 1922, with tree-lined Dole Park running down the center. At the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Church, a lone parishioner prayed. A few kids played pickup basketball at the Old Gym.
Most of the laughter and the noise came from Lanai Coffee Co., where a group of teens had gathered to drink mochas, talk and generally cut loose a little. High school senior Sterling Lopes said kids couldn't really misbehave in Lanai City. "Everything that happens here, everyone knows about," he said. "Almost the second it happens."
Kinoikaiki Amby-Rial commutes from Maui to work at the hotels, taking the ferry and staying weeknights with family. He loves Lanai, he says, the only problem being that you can't be late to work. "There's no traffic here, so you can't use that as an excuse."
At Lanai Elementary and High School ("Home of the Pinelads and Lasses"), I was startled to see, in a black pinstriped suit, U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo, handing out booklets on safety to a class of first-graders. He'd earlier warned the older kids to stay away from drugs. "I wish I could get over here more often," he said, before heading off to the Lodge for high tea with wife Tammy.
Rounding the square, I ran into Mark and Barbara Zigmond, sitting on the lanai of their colorful little restaurant, Pele's Other Garden, closed for a few hours between lunch and dinner. Mark miraculously remembered me from a conversation five years earlier, so the next thing I knew we were having a beer.
A decade ago the Zigmonds fled financial analyst jobs in New Jersey and landed on Lanai. In Jersey, they lived for sunny weekends, driving an hour to the beach, where they had to pay to get on.
"Here, the beach is free and it's eight miles away," says Mark. "Sometimes we say, gosh, we don't feel like driving all the way down there."
As the afternoon wore down, the parking along the square began to fill up with Jeeps and pickup trucks. People were headed next door, to the Pine Isle Market ("Serving Lanai City since 1951").
"Lanai at its busiest," said Mark. "Yesterday was barge day, so today's the best day of the week to shop. Sit here long enough, you'll see almost everybody."
COURTESY KEPA MALY
Castle & Cooke conservation officer Darrell Stokes showed off the new fence surrounding 1,900 acres of watershed on Lanai. The fence extends up the mountain and down the other side. CLICK FOR LARGE
Lanai's watershed is its single mountain, Lanaihale. Even though the island, converted to tourism and luxury real estate, is using far less water than it did in plantation days, Castle & Cooke's conservation officer, Darrell Stokes, is thinking ahead. "I'm planning for the next 1,000 years," he says.
Stokes is fencing the entire mountain, in sections. Currently 1,900 acres are enclosed with an 8-foot fence that snakes all the way up the mountain and around the other side. By the time Stokes is finished, he'll have 9,000 acres fenced off. The point: To control introduced species, mainly sheep and deer, which are causing erosion.
What happens to the animals? "We're saying relocate," says Stokes. "We don't like the e-word." As in "eat," judging by the hungry looks on the residents with rifles who are allowed through the gates.
It's not cheap to fence off a mountain. When Stokes told Castle & Cooke boss David Murdoch his plan, Murdoch complained that while everyone else asked him for thousands, Stokes always wanted millions.
"I told him he was the only the person in the world who could say he owned an entire Hawaiian island," says Stokes. "And that, I said, costs millions." He got three for the fence.
Back in the City: Among the other events going last Wednesday night at a Restaurant Row was a fundraiser at Hiroshi's for the Soroptimists, a professional women's club devoted to the betterment of women and girls.
The wine-and-pupu affair ended at 8 p.m. But no one could get in their car and go home. HPD had shut down the entire parking lot, because of a suspicious package.
"We wanted a good crowd at this event," said Kim Tomlinson, Soroptimist International of Honolulu president, "but not a captive audience."
After two hours, police blew up what turned out to be a fake bomb. The garage floor was littered with pieces of cardboard and Styrofoam. A ragged cheer went up from the nearly 100 folks waiting to go home. Cars began zooming out of the lot.
I'd waited out the hours sitting in a folding chair outside, smoking a cigar with Chuck Furuya of Vino and Hiroshi's. Furuya was philosophical: "I guess this party turned out to be da bomb."
In a yellow golf shirt and floral-print pants, the world's most famous chef, Nobu Matsuhisa, did interviews here last week, drumming up interest in Nobu Waikiki. The restaurant's ready, the backlit onyx panels and Japanese fisherman-basket light fixtures in place, the kitchen fully equipped. But Nobu's not ready.
Even the May 28 opening is provisional, he said. "Everything must be right first. Work, work, no golf." Still, he wakes up every morning looking out at the beach and sees, as he puts it, "the bikini ladies. Makes it hard to work."