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Liliha Bakery Nimitz June 2014 Update

Back in March an update on Liliha Bakery’s second location on Nimitz highway was posted here, just when the contractor began the build-out of the interior, after major infrastructure work had just been completed for their new grease trap and plumbing in general.

Back then, owner Peter Kim told me his target date to open would be June 23rd, which would be tomorrow. However that opening “target” date is now being pushed back to a non-specific date in July, estimates his assistant Lawrence, who was so kind to walk me around the establishment this past week and explain the progress.

Let’s take a look now at how it’s coming along, starting here where patrons enter the new Liliha Bakery, the same main entrance used at the former Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab…

That station to the left is the host & reception desk where customers can pick-up phone orders,  view and purchase Liliha Bakery logo products, and request to be seated at the coffee shop.

Here is the main baked goods display area, similar in setup to the original Liliha Bakery….

Here’s a “before” shot back in March from about the same vantage point…

It’s essentially four large temperature-controlled pastry display counter cases set-up in an “L” shape, 2-case x 2-case array.

In the photo above you’re looking toward the main entrance (to the right) at the pastry display cases, where as Lawrence explained, the flow will be one way then hang a right in that direction if you’re going to the bakery, or go straight ahead if you want to eat at the coffee shop. The door on the left will be closed during regular business hours.

The tall white display cases behind the pastry display case & counter on the side will be for cakes.

That tall cake display case also acts as a room divider to the main coffee shop dining room behind it…

Under that plastic sheeting are Liliha Nimitz’ coffee shop chairs, which were all originally from Sam Choy’s BLC, refinished and reupholstered to look like new.

A before shot from back in March of the dining area…

Back to the main area, at the back of the establishment is the open kitchen, wrapped around its perimeter with an L-shaped bar counter that will be the centerpiece of the new Liliha Bakery Nimitz Coffee Shop….

Gotta’ dig that mood lighting. This is going to be one hip cofee shop!

The coffee shop bar counter top is solid granite..

Attention to detail is abundant, right up to the stylishly cozy decorative drop ceiling and track lighting treatment…

Here’s a before shot back in March from this same vantage point…

Down to the floors…

I forgot to ask Lawrence what the flooring material is made out of. It looks like laminate wood flooring, however notice there’s grey grout between each “plank”. It could be some sort of solid surface commercial grade flooring with a simulated wood finish. It felt pretty hard. I think the color tone works well with the overall look of the place.

Details also carry over, right down to the high end utensils…

And glassware (that’s a wine goblet)…

Right down to the salt & pepper shakers…

The dishware was still packed in boxes, so didn’t any shots of that.

The restrooms are in the doors to the right of the Reception Counter (go straight and hang a left if you’re walking in from the entrance)….

The restrooms are the only thing they’re not renovating. It’s the same old bathrooms from the BLC era. Nah, just kidding. lol

Speaking of major renovations, it’s now time to check out Liliha Bakery & Coffee Shop’s new kitchen…

According to lawrence, about 90% of the kitchen equipment is brand new, however they did retain a few things from Sam Choy’s, including the built-in walkin refrigerator in the main kitchen area. While I didn’t ask, it looks like that open flame gas grill and flat top grills are also being reused.

As you can tell, this back portion of the kitchen in the photo above will be where most of the baking will take place.

That’s now. Here’s “then” in the same area of the kitchen back in March…

The new baking area, angle “B”…

The central kitchen cooking station ventilation hood above — another Sam Choy’s BLC original —  has been completely overhauled to function like new.

Back in March…

This front end of the kitchen, with grills, oven, refrigeration and other related equipment in place will be servicing the coffee shop…

A before shot from back in March of this same front side of the kitchen…

From the back counter, looking through the open kitchen towards the entrance…

The ultimate baker’s dream, a massive Butcherblock work bench island is the centerpiece of the baking area…

Now you want to talk state of the art? Well this kitchen has some pretty cool, very expensive, heavy-duty commercial equipment! Check out these brand new Vulcan Steamer Kettles

The steamer kettles are used to cook soups, stews, sauces and more in high volume, quickly.

High volume donut production is no problem with the Belshaw Adamatic Cake Donut Depositor (maker) and integrated donut deep fryer….

High volume baking and roasting is not a problem with this bad @ss brand new Baxter Revolving Tray Oven

This rotates multiple baking racks on a horizontal axis, similar to high volume automatic rotating smokers.

Proofing a $#!tload of dough is no problem with this MASSIVE Baxter walk-in sized Proofer…

Mixing a boatload of dough is no problem with not just one, but two brand new Hobart commercial mixers…

FYI, each one of these Hobart commercial mixers run a cool $30k. That Baxter Rotation Tray Oven (operating on natural gas) runs a cool $40k.

More mixers…

While I didn’t ask Lawrence, I’m guessing each additional Hobart mixing bowl here is dedicated to a particular pastry dough style…

Adding to the sales volume Lililha Bakery Nimitz is anticipating are all these baking racks…

To note, the copper finished sheet pans (it’s not really copper) are strictly for the display cases, and not intended to be heated in the oven, as their gauge is very light compared to the thicker aluminum sheet pans.

Accommodating those numerous baking racks is this here Baxter Rotating Rack Oven

This oven can accommodate two fully-loaded single baking racks at a time and turns them on a vertical axis for even heat distribution and fast cooking of everything on the rack from top to bottom. This is what will be used exclusively for high volume Coco Puffs production. This oven goes for a cool $30k.

Speaking of production, according to Lawrence, this is their new “Coco Puffs maker”…

I have no idea how this Polin Choux Creme maker works, nor did Lawrence. I tried looking online for demos or more info’ to no avail. Hopefully when Liliha @ Nimitz opens I can go back there and do a video of it in action.

Oh, and by the way, the room in back where the “Coco Puff Maker” and oven are may also look and act like a storage room and pantry, however Lawrence tells me this is officially the “Coco Puff Room”….

As shown in the previous update, the second walk-in refrigerator is back here in the “Coco Puffs Room”…

The new walk-in Coco Puffs reefer back in March with almost nothing in it…

This livingroom-sized walk-in reefer will be used almost exclusively to store finished Coco Puffs.

And that’s about it for now on the inside. On the outside, they finally began dismantling the Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab neon sign…

And they also repaved the entire parking lot….

Compared to the original Liliha Bakery location which holds 26 counter seats in its 24 hour coffee shop, the new Nimitz location will accommodate 45 counter seats, with an additional 120 table seats in the adjoining dining room.

Again, according to Lawrence, Mr. Kim’s assistant, the opening of Liliha Bakery on Nimitz has been pushed back to an as of yet non-specific date in July, to be announced. Lawrence also noted the Nimitz bakery hours will be 6am to 12am daily, while Mr. Kim noted to me during the previous visit that he planned to eventually open the shop 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Liliha Bakery Coco Puff Cake  – 20 individual Coco Puffs arranged and “glued” together with Chantilly frosting

Also to reiterate again, the menu and pastry selection will be pretty much exactly the same as the original location, however I forgot to ask if there would be any price difference. Let’s cross our fingers on that!

The only new menu items Lawrence mentioned that will be exclusive to the Nimitz location is Prime Rib, Roast Pork, Spicy Baby Back Pork Ribs and two salads. He also said they’ll be “striving to offer gourmet dining at coffee shop prices”. Sounds great!

One last note Lawrence made is that the new location wants to appeal to the younger hip crowd, so expect them to have a big social media presence, and the youthful energy at the shop to match.

Well, hope you enjoyed my ‘Restaurant Impossible’ style before and after shots of the soon to open Liliha Bakery on Nimitz Highway. My next update will be when they finally open. Until then, toodles!

Liliha Bakery @ Nimitz
580 N. Nimitz Hwy. (across Na Lama Kukui; previously Gentry Pacific Center & City Mill, just before Zippy’s)
Honolulu, HI  96817

Tel. N/A

Related links:
LilihaBakeryHawaii.com – official website
New Liliha Bakery to Hire 125 people at Job Fair in May – Pacific Business News
Liliha Bakery Nimitz Update – The Tasty Island
Liliha Bakery Coco Puff Cake – The Tasty Island

13 thoughts on “Liliha Bakery Nimitz June 2014 Update

  • June 22, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Wow. That’s a lot of kala for equipment and reno. I wonder how many coco puffs Mr. Kim has to sell to break even.

    • June 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm


      It was noted that easily over $1 million was spent just on kitchen equipment, restaurant supplies and furnishings, not including other construction costs.

      While I didn’t ask, I’m curious who footed the bill for the repaved parking lot. That alone must have run a pretty penny. BTW, the Weinberg Estate owns that property (as they do many other properties in industrial areas around Honolulu).

      • June 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm

        I’m sure Zippys not too happy with all the competion in the neighborhood. Pretty shrewd marketing to have H-50 mentioning cocopuffs on some episodes.

        • June 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm


          Everyone has their niche and loyal customers. Don’t forget Kamehameha Bakery who just opened right down the street at City Square Shopping Center. It’s also going to come down to price. Kamehameha Bakery was always known for having the best prices in town.

          Didn’t know Hawaii Five-0 was plugging Coco Puffs. Must have been Kamekona saying that line. lol Hey, there you go! With Big T’s Shrimp Truck right down the street at Hilo Hattie, he can now (re)sell Coco Puffs at the shrimp truck too! “As heard about on Hawaii Five-0”.

  • June 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    This is total kitchen pr0n, maybe this needs a not safe for work tag, Pomai. This is a pretty rare thing to see on a food blog – normally you just see the end product.

    Unfreakingbelievable fitout. Those copper trays are gorgeous but there is so much eye candy for the kitchen lover here. Dough hooks! Mixers! Amazing ovens!

    Not surprised it is taking longer than expected. :)

    Will look forward to full coverage of this on your blog, including videos. Loving your work as always. ;)

    • June 23, 2014 at 1:53 am


      Very happy to hear you appreciate this type of coverage. I seriously eat this type of behind-the-scenes stuff up, as I’m very much into the technical aspect of restaurant operations, including finances and kitchen functions. Can’t wait to get a look at how that Coco Puff machine works!

  • June 23, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Growing up in Liliha, I cannot say that I am a big fan of this expansion. While I’m glad that patrons will be treated to a more spacious location (finally) , it lacks the same small town charm and appeal that people are familiar with.

    Hopefully people will still remember and pay homage to the original location. However, I’m glad that they’re really taking this new location seriously, even if it does seem a little excessive.

    • June 23, 2014 at 1:47 am


      Excellent points made. It’s kinda’ like Gulick Delicatessen’s expansion to the King Street location (previously Makino Chiya / previously King’s Bakery), where you kinda’ feel it robs the original location on Gulick Avenue of its old school mom ‘n pop Kalihi style okazuya charm.

      The one that must have many scratching their head is Kapiolani Coffee Shop being now located in — of all places — Waimalu Shopping Center. Then they have “Asahi Grill” on Ward. Kinda’ weird, right? Yet, hey, the Oxtail Soup still rocks, that’s the main thing!

      Anyhow, you have to respect Peter Kim in his respect to the original owners of Liliha Bakery in keeping the menu and recipes exactly the same, irregardless of modern equipment he’s implementing for the sake of running a smart and efficient modernized business. I’m glad he’s going excessive on this second location, in comparison to being half @ss about it, that’s for sure! Let’s just hope the staff they’ve hired takes it just as seriously.

  • June 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Can’t wait to check this out when I visit in December! Thanks to you, there are so many must-eat places that I didn’t know about or that moved locations. One note on the flooring at the Nimitz Liliha Bakery, that is probably ceramic tile to look like wood. We just had some installed and they are great! There are so many cool wood grain looks to choose from now.

    • June 24, 2014 at 5:23 am

      Aloha Jan,

      Glad to hear you found some handy Honolulu dining tips here. Note that this new Liliha Bakery’s on Nimitz is their second location, and they still have the original in Liliha. Kamehameha Bakery is the one that has closed their original location on School Street and is now relocated to City Square Shopping Center.

      Ah, so I was right about the flooring being ceramic with a faux wood finish. Pretty cool. I’m curious why they chose light gray grout. I can see wanting to see the lines in contrast, however that’s going to get ugly after a while unless they really stay on it. I would have chosen a dark, dark brown grout.

  • June 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm


    The reason you could not find any information about Polin Choux Creme maker was because what you photographed is an automatic “Multidrop” machine used for any type of pastry.

    Polin Group: http://www.polin.it/artigianale/en/polinlive is located in Italy and is a major commercial kitchen supplier and custom designer. They also make a number of robotic commercial machines for different trades.

    • June 24, 2014 at 5:57 am


      Ah, you found it! That said, here’s a YouTube demo of a Polin Rotary Multidrop Machine similar to the “C” model. This, making the various types of cookies and biscuits its capable of using different die nozzles and programming for the “drop”…

      “All that does” is speed up the basic Choux Creme making and baking process, which I’m sure improves profit margin per piece exponentially. Still, the workers at Liliha Bakery will still have to (tediously) inject each Coco Puff filling manually with the various fillings, as well as cover it with the Chantilly or Chocolate after each pan after pan after pan are baked.

      I’ll definitely ask Lawrence or Peter if I can do a video of Liliha Bakery’s Polin machine in action making Coco Puffs. That would so rock for a blog post, “The modern making of Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs”. ;-)


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