Erika Engle

Maui Tacos expanding;
KHON updating its branding

Maui Tacos chef and co-owner Mark Ellman is expecting a new arrival.

He and partner Shep Gordon hope to open the newest Maui location by Easter, but Ellman declined to divulge the exact spot as their signatures are not yet on the requisite dotted lines.

The first Maui Tacos restaurant was in Napili. Its Valley Isle sisters are in Kahului, Kihei and Lahaina where Ellman and other partners also own the Penne Pasta Cafe, which serves Italian food.

The next new home of Ellman's Maui-Mex cuisine could be on Oahu, if the partners find the right place.

"We just looked at two locations, in Manoa and Pearl City," but will be "passing on them," he said. On Oahu, Maui Tacos is in Kailua and Mililani and Hilo has the Big Island' only location.

"We'd love to be in Kona and on Kauai," he added.

Of the nearly two dozen Maui Tacos on the mainland, four are at airports. Rhode Island-based Anton's AirFoods Inc. franchises the airport Maui Taco surf shacks in Newark, N.J., Washington, D.C., Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., and in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

"Those stores are doing tremendous," Ellman said.

The lion's share of mainland Maui Tacos are franchised by Maui Tacos International Inc., a partnership with Atlanta-based Blimpie International Inc.

One of them is at 33rd and 5th avenues in New York City, "next to the Empire State Building. That's like fast-food heaven," Ellman said. Many among the busloads of visitors dropped off at the Big Apple attraction stop in for a taste of Maui. "Once people have the food, they're hooked."

Channel 2 tweaked

KHON television unveiled the results of nine months of meetings and work Monday, launching its new imaging elements. It's no longer "The Channel 2 News," "Fox 2, Hawaii's News Channel" or any of the other ways the station was being described in the marketplace or in the station's hallways.

"What we wanted to do is sort through and find out that which had the most equity with the audience," said Rick Blangiardi, Hawaii market senior vice president for Emmis Communications Corp., which owns KHON and KGMB.

The station is carried on Channel 3 on statewide cable for reasons relating to signal quality, but station officials' review of Nielsen viewership diaries showed that most people listed KHON, Channel 2, or some combination of the two.

"The 2 has phenomenal equity," he said.

The change will be built into all elements of the newscasts and "interstitials that run throughout the day," he said. The news shows have been renamed: "Hawaii's Morning News," "Hawaii at Five," "Hawaii's World Report," "Hawaii at Six," and "Hawaii at Ten."

The change will spread stationwide, from signage to stationery, Blangiardi said.

No outside company was hired for the updated branding.

"We have this firepower under our roof -- great equipment and great minds -- and we put it to use," Blangiardi said. "Ruthless consistency" will now be the watchword for "every facet of what we do."

KHON signed on the air as KONA television in 1953 and production of a 50th anniversary special is under way. The station did not keep as much archival footage as did KGMB, honored in its own anniversary special earlier this year. KGMB's graphics package also may be refreshed, Blangiardi said.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at:


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