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Lanikai Juice opening second shop in Kahala


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POSTED: Friday, October 09, 2009

After a years-long search, Lanikai Juice will be opening a second location across from Kahala Mall.

The new space, measuring 1,000 square feet, will be two times larger than the existing shop at Kailua Shopping Center, which for nearly 12 years has served customers lined up outside the door.

Owner Pablo Gonzalez, 55, has at last found the right space for his popular, fresh-fruit smoothie and acai bowl shop at a corner of the new Assaggio retail plaza at Waialae and Kilauea avenues.

The interior is under construction, and the shop is expected to open by early November.

“;I've been waiting for years for this,”; Gonzalez said. “;All these years, I've put money back into the business.”;

When he first opened in 1997 at Kailua Shopping Center, there were dozens of other juice shops, he remembers, which have since come and gone.

At the time, Lanikai Juice only measured 350 square feet, before expanding to 500 square feet. It was there two years before Jamba Juice opened across the street.

Gonzalez, who is from Argentina, said he remains competitive by coming up with creative blends, as well as using organic soy milk, granola, apple juice, honey, peanut butter and fresh, locally grown fruit. It's a volume-based business, given that the smoothies and bowls are priced between about $4 to $7.

He claims to be one of the first on the island to sell acai bowls (made from the antioxidant-rich acai berry of South America). The gourmet smoothie bowls are the newest addition.

Even with a down economy, sales at Lanikai Juice this year are 20 percent better than last year. Consumers are more health-conscious today than they were when Lanikai Juice first opened, he said, and that market is growing.

In Kailua, Lanikai Juice is a popular mainstay for residents and tourists alike, particularly Japanese visitors, offering smoothies with localized names like Kailua Monkey, Lanikai Splash, and Waimanalo Blue.

The Kailua Monkey has been a hit ever since “;Lost”; star Matthew Fox gave it a plug on Oprah a few years ago. Visitors still walk in the door, inquiring about it, Gonzalez said.

The second Lanikai Juice will be next door to Assaggio, which opened in September. Assaggio owner Thomas Ky built the new retail plaza earlier this year to open his sixth restaurant.

On the other side, Nails La Vie, an upscale nail salon, is also open. A UPS Store will join the center soon.

Gonzalez will hire about 24 employees (including a few who worked at the now-closed Niketown Waikiki) for the new Lanikai Juice. Like the Kailua shop, this one will feature hand-painted murals on the walls, this time depicting Diamond Head.

The company has also been expanding its catering services, which offer fresh fruit and veggie bowls for clients like Hawaiian Airlines.