Ad in phone directory results in cafe expanding to Schofield


POSTED: Sunday, August 09, 2009

A popular Windward Oahu coffee shop where grownups and cool kids hang out is expanding to a third location while many businesses are going in the other direction.

Muddy Waters Cafe LLC celebrated the grand opening of its new and largest store yesterday at Kalakaua Community Center at Schofield Barracks.

“;I'm very, very blessed that I had this opportunity,”; said owner Julie Loo.

Its flagship location is in Aikahi Park Shopping Center, at the corner of Kaneohe Bay Drive and Mokapu Road. The Aikahi cafe is 360 square feet while the new shop is a comparatively whopping 1,560.

The deal was made not with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, as is typical, but through the Army Hawaii Family Housing partnership between the U.S. Army and developer Actus Lend Lease.

Muddy Waters is “;the first retail amenity that we've put in any of our community centers in any installation,”; said Claire Ridding-Johnston, Actus Lend Lease project director.

Actus manages 44,000 military housing units in the U.S., including about 8,900 in Hawaii. For every 500 homes, it builds one community center.

“;AAFES was gracious enough to give us a waiver — they gave us permission to put some sort of retail outlet in this installation,”; Ridding-Johnston said.

The placement is a “;pilot arrangement,”; but Actus expects “;to have a long-term relationship,”; with Loo, Ridding-Johnston said.

The new location came about in part because of Muddy Waters' expansion to Bellows Air Force Station last May, which occurred because the vendor that was going into that space withdrew at the last minute, Loo said.

AAFES needed a cafe on the double and, letting its fingers do the walking, found Muddy Waters.

“;I happened to have a huge ad with my whole menu (in that directory). ... That call paid for the ad,”; said Loo.

That was in April of 2008 and “;by May 13 we were open,”; she said.

Last August she got another call about a military installation needing a cafe

Actus officials came to the Aikahi store to meet with Loo and get a feel for the place.

They told her it was “;exactly what they were looking for,”; she said.

“;We remember that it's about the customers, a place where they can come in and hang out; it's always the way that we wanted Muddy Waters to be.”;

Grand-opening festivities included entertainment by hula dancers, balloon-animal twisters and Dion Scott, AKA “;Boogie,”; a special-ed teacher at Kailua Elementary School and blues musician.

All three stores display Linda Briggs' artwork and give a free cuppa joe to guests who correctly answer the question of the day.

Loo hired nine employees from the Schofield area for the new operation and promoted a seven-year Aikahi employee to be general manager.

Muddy's at Schofield will operate from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays; from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Live music will highlight Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).