Monday, February 8, 1999

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Kenneth Young mixes the filling for
Ted's Bakery's chocolate haupia pies.

Ted’s brothers
make sweet feat
of pie venture

Free delivery from Sunset
Beach to town tripled business
for Ted's Bakery

Rod Ohira


By being willing to go the extra mile, brothers Glenn and Ted Nakamura have turned a small Sunset Beach family business into a million-dollar operation.

Ted's Bakery specializes in cream pies, and demand has tripled since the Nakamuras started free delivery to town last May.

The bakery grossed about $500,000 from May to December, and the projected income for the fiscal year 1998-1999 is $1 million, says Glenn Nakamura. In the fiscal year 1997-1998, the gross was $400,000, he added.

Ted Nakamura, 40, says he was baking only about a dozen pies a week for sale at the family's Sunset Beach Store until a customer called and asked, "If I order 18 pies, will you deliver?"

It triggered a response that has paid off big time.

The brothers started taking orders for delivery on Mother's Day in hopes of selling 50 pies.

"We went through the roof when we got 200 orders," Glenn Nakamura said. "It hasn't stopped except for a brief lull after Christmas and New Year's."

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Loretta Camaros-Abregano, left, and Doreen Capol use
a machine to top off pies, which saves time
over the squeeze-bag method.

Glenn, 42, says 1,000 of the 1,500 pies sold each week are delivery orders.

"At this time last year, pie sales accounted for 10-15 percent of the total bakery operation and income," he said. "The pies now account for 90 percent of the bakery's operation and income."

Chocolate haupia is Ted's signature pie and the most popular of the 11 cream pies currently on the bakery's list.

Ted Nakamura smiles when he thinks about how the chocolate haupia pie came to be: "It was like a mistake. About a year ago, I was making a haupia cake and some others were making a chocolate pie, he says. "I took the leftover haupia and chocolate and made a pie. Everyone said it was really good so we started selling it. Now half the orders we get is for chocolate haupia."

When Ted's Bakery opened in July 1987, it brought the brothers back to their roots at Sunset Beach Store, founded by their parents, Takemitsu and Eva Nakamura, in 1956.

Glenn became a teacher while Ted attended Leeward College and went into food service.

After teaching stops at McKinley, Hana, Castle and Kawananakoa Intermediate over four years, Glenn Nakamura was ready for a career change.

In 1985, he decided to run the family store, on the mauka side of Kamehameha Highway about 2-1/2 miles past Waimea Bay. His parents had leased the store in 1965 to concentrate on farming but the tenant chose not to renew after 20 years, says Glenn Nakamura.

"After six months of operating the place, I saw that it was ripe for a bakery," he said. "We were continually running out of bread and selling a lot of Love's Bakery snack items."

Ted Nakamura began baking pies in 1989 at the request of Jameson's By the Sea restaurant, which was ordering eight macadamia cream pies a week.

"I started out with one helper, now we have 25 employees," he said. "We bake seven days a week and if we have to, we do it for 24 straight hours."

Ted says there's no secret recipe.

"The secret in cooking or baking is using quality ingredients," Ted Nakamura said. "We use 100 percent butter, not margarine, cream, fresh eggs and 100 percent vanilla to give the customers their money's worth."

Glenn Nakamura, meanwhile, has two official titles -- president of Ono Bento Inc., the store side, and assistant vice president of the bakery -- but sees himself as "the coordinator."

City zoning laws prohibit expansion of Sunset Beach Store, but the store's existence is protected by a conditional-use permit. Despite the availability of space, the bakery cannot expand or take over the store.

So the brothers are looking elsewhere.

Success is motivating the brothers to work harder on new ideas.

"Brother Ted was working on a chocolate mocha pie during Christmas that'll be on the menu. The pie for February will be strawberry-guava, which is something new," Glenn Nakamura said.

Deliveries to town are made three times a week.

Monday deliveries are to wholesalers -- the primary outlets are Columbia Inn, Hungry Lion Restaurant and Hawaii's Best Desserts at Ala Moana Center -- while orders of five or more pies are delivered Wednesdays and Fridays, but only to workplaces, not residences.

"We grew up in this store and were poor, but we could always go fishing or swimming," Glenn Nakamura said with his brother nodding in agreement. "Now all we do here is make pies."

But it's a sweet life.

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