Sweet treats on wheels, lunch wagon style


POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

There it was, parked outside Waterfront Plaza: Hokulani Bake Shop owner Tushar Dubey's new baby, all tricked out with wooden shakes as faux eaves and a quaint, cottage-looking paint job.

It has vanity plates: CUPCK, and is the new Hokulani Bake Shop truck — not that the truck itself is new.

The former mail truck still has right-hand drive, so it will require a driver comfortable with such a configuration, not to mention navigating the vehicle's breadth through city streets. There also will be the matter of the tempting aroma of its tasty inventory.

Dubey has all the insurance and permits in order, he said.

As of yesterday morning he just needed a parking spot, since it doesn't fit in the Waterfront Plaza garage where his flagship store and bakery are located.

“;Once I have a nighttime parking stall, then I can figure out where we're going to sell. I also have to staff it,”; he said.

He's talking with landlords to see about sales spots in Waikiki and in town, but plans to keep the truck available for private parties and big events on Saturdays and Sundays.

Meanwhile, the main store and bakery space is being expanded to accommodate increased business coming from Hokulani's new location at Pioneer Plaza, open since Nov. 2.

“;It's going really well. It's a great location,”; he said. “;You cannot beat the lunchtime foot traffic — or the quality of foot traffic.”;

The expansion is Dubey's effort at addressing the competition that has increased since he opened Hokulani four years ago, in November 2005.

There are catering companies that weren't doing cupcakes before, mainstream bakeries pushing their lines of cupcakes and a certain big-box store selling 24 cupcakes for $6.99. That is a price point Dubey can't offer, since his recipes call for real butter, as opposed to hydrogenated this, that or the other thing.

“;We're just real ... we're not gourmet. I hate the word 'gourmet,' actually,”; he said. Its use is so ubiquitous it has lost significance, as has the term “;baked fresh daily.”;

Some places import bread dough “;made eight weeks ago”; and frozen, but once thawed, is baked and sold as having been baked fresh that day.

Hokulani's daily baked cupcakes, cookies and other treats are available at Waterfront Plaza from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sundays but could soon open that day as well, given special-order baking that happens on weekends.

The Pioneer Plaza location's hours are officially 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, but “;we're pretty much open until 4,”; he said.