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Whole Foods Market Queen opens as largest in Hawaii

Whole Foods Market Queen celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. The 72,000 square feet, 2-level store is the largest of now four locations in Hawaii. The three other stores are in Kailua and Kahala Mall (first in the state) on Oahu, and in Kahului, Maui. Aptly named, Whole Foods Market Queen is located on the corner of Queen & Kamake’e Street in Kaka’ako, right behind Ward Theaters. The new Anaha condominium tower flanks it on the Diamond Head side of Kamake’e. 

Along with 2 levels that include retail, food stations and 2 bars, there’s also 6 levels of free parking available within the same structure above the first level, extending its overall height. 

Here’s all the facts about Whole Foods Market Queen:

  • Whole Foods Market Queen is the 4th and largest location in Hawaii.
  • At 72,000 square feet and spanning two floors, it has created over 300 new jobs locally.
  • Whole Foods Market features foods that are free from preservatives, flavors, colors and sweeteners, and contain no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated fats. 
  • Shoppers can find over 900 unique locally-made, grown or raised in Hawaii products.
  • There are over 60 local suppliers in produce, including fresh squeezed heirloom Hawaiian sugarcane juice from Ko Hana that is juiced and bottled in-store.
  • The produce department will carry only non-GMO papaya and corn.
  • The seafood department features a large selection of local fish purchased daily less than three miles away at the Honolulu Fish Mart.
  • All wild-caught seafood offered are from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or rated either yellow or green by Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center. 
  • All farmed seafood, fresh or frozen, is responsibly farmed and backed by third-party audits with rigorous standards that prevent antibiotics, growth hormones and use of synthetic parasiticides on farms. 
  • Talented, trained fishmongers will debone, fillet or devein shrimp and fish at the seafood counter for customers at no charge. 
  • All fresh beef, pork and chicken in the meat case come from farms that are third-party audited, adhering to the Global Animal Partnership 5-step Animal Welfare Rating. 
  • In-store dry-aged beef steaks are cut and trimmed fresh daily, and aged for 14 to 21 days. 
  • The store carries more than 400 natural and organic products from Whole Foods Market’s private label 365 Everyday Value. 
  • The store has over 100 bins in the extensive bulk section, where shoppers can save by getting only what they need, without the added cost of packaging. 
  • The Queen location is the first whole Foods Market store with fresh scratch-made bread, baked daily in-house. 
  • An in-store bar named Two Tides (located on both floors!) offers delicious food such as tempura, yakitori and burgers, along with 24 beers on tap, including exclusives from Waikiki Brewing Company.  
  • The prepared foods department features Mac & Cheese bar with pork belly mac, roasted tomato and spinach mac, jalapeno mac, brisket mac and vegan option. 
  • The coffee bar features three Nitro teas on tap and two milk tea options with Boba add-on options.
  • Local favorite Lanikai Juice has an in-store venue, providing fresh cold-pressed juices, smoothies and bowls. 
  • Local supplier La Tour Cafe will offer hearty banh mi sandwiches on the second floor. 
  • Shoppers can make their own fresh ground nut butters using the store’s six grinders.
  • The store has an in-house ceviche program.
  • The Whole Body department features a large selection of body care from local favorites like Hawaiian Bath & Body, Kula Herbs, Moku Pua and Maui Honey. 
  • Shoppers can choose from a wide selection of chilled Sake. 
  • Self-serve desserts include mochi ice cream and macarons.
  • A poke bar featuring  seven to fifteen varieties of poke daily with options to customize by adding toppings such as fresh fruit, veggies, nuts and seasonings.
  • The Queen store is the first to feature a dedicated retail brand shop selling Whole Foods market-branded reusable bags, beach towels, mugs, postcards, hats and more. 

I must say, this is the most impressive supermarket on the island yet. In a word, it’s epic! I can’t say they’ve topped Foodland Farms Ala Moana, because that store has its own merits and a more local feel, because it is truly local. I’m also a huge Costco fan, so there’s that. However Whole Foods Market Queen has set the bar of “mega grocery store” to a whole new level, no pun intended.

I wasn’t in “Price is right” mode, so wasn’t comparing prices tit for tat. Most items seemed priced “fair”, where some were really good deals and some that looked like “whoah, that’s a wallet-buster”.  Many of the health and environment-friendly products they carry are unique to Whole Foods that you simply can’t find at other grocery stores, so it’s difficult to compare, price-wise. If you pay more here, think of it as an investment in your health, is the best way I look at it. If you save some kala (money), great, because there’s definitely some deals here. 

Speaking of prices, their point-of-sale signage and shelf labels are very informative not only on prices, but also what is organic or “conventional”, while also letting you know what’s on sale or are regular everyday priced items. I didn’t have any problems figuring out what anything costs or described as. Their aisle markers and store layout also makes it very easy to find what you’re looking for throughout the store on both levels. There’s also easy-to-find escalators and handicap-accessible elevators, with the latter having direct access to the 6-level parking structure. Lots of checkouts, including an extended express checkout means you’ll be out of there in no time if you’re in a hurry. 

As for the prepared foods, I tried the smoked brisket, falafel and other mediterranean sides from the hot foods station, and it was absolutely onolicious! Their in-house sourdough bread is on-point as well, tasting as good as any from San Fran’. They have a poke bar in the seafood section that lets you sample each poke style yourself with toothpicks, which for free, no “Whole Paycheck” need apply, they were all good in my book!

There’s also a poke bowl station on the second floor, along with Mary’s Chicken Wings and La Tour Cafe, for made-to-order Wings and Banh Mi. Up there you’ll also find the second of two Two Tides bars and a generous food court seating area with window views of Kaka’ako. 

The great selection of unique, healthy, quality food products, plethora of prepared food stations, quick checkouts, easy-to-navigate layout, ample free parking, friendly staff and overall “cool” vibe, make Whole Foods Queen the queen of supermarkets in Hawaii! 

Whole Foods Market Queen
388 Kamakee Street
Suite 100
Honolulu, HI 96814

Tel. 808.379.1800
Hours: 7:00am – 10:00pm daily 

www.WholeFoodsMarket.com

Following is the Tasty Island’s photo coverage of Whole Foods Market Queen on grand opening day. Enjoy. ;-)

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30 thoughts on “Whole Foods Market Queen opens as largest in Hawaii

  • May 11, 2018 at 2:27 pm
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    Pomai,

    I only go into “Whole Paycheck” when I am looking for a hard to find product. Now that Amazon owns it the prices are still high. This new idea of building a supersize grocery store is stupid.

    We live on an island and actually we are the only island state in the nation. When mainland business comes to the state they need to adjust their thinking as you can’t just drive over the state line into another state. You only have a limited amount of people you can sell to in one day. It is tottly disresspectful and wasteful to be displaying about two months of food to be sold in one day. Not going to happen as there will be a lot of throw away.

    I’ll stay shopping in my small grocery stores near my house where I see the food being resupplied fresh daily as it is being sold and not sitting out weeks or months in a massive display getting old. COSTCO, Foodland with R Fields Wine store, Safeway and Filipino seafood markets in Waipahu are my normal weekly stops. If I’m cooking other things then stops in DQ, Korean or Chinese grocery stores.

    BTW; You read the price sticker for gallon of milk wrong as it is 2% reduced fat milk not whole milk priced $8.49. Back on mainland at “Whole Paycheck” they sold local dairy milk in glass bottles and jugs. Nothing beats the taste of milk out of glass bottles or jugs!

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm
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      Ken,

      Man, what’s with all the negativity lately? First you threw Redondo’s under the bus for their cooking instructions, and now you’re totally slamming Whole Foods? Sheesh.

      How do you know Whole Foods throws away unsold food? They’re no different than what Don Quijote, Foodland and Safeway are doing now with their prepared foods, meats, seafood and desserts at their expanded deli counters. As you see by their standards listed in the bullet points, they have a high regard for stewardship not only to their food sources, but to the community. Also, they employed over 300 people at just one store alone! Along with that, they make it a focal point that many of their vendors are local, especially in the produce section. That also boosts our local economy.

      You really should visit their new store in Kaka’ako before criticizing it so negatively. You’d be surprised how reasonable some of the prices are. You also gotta’ check out their house-made sausages in the meat department. You’d be very impressed! I didn’t post those pics yet. Will tomorrow.

      Reply
      • May 11, 2018 at 8:57 pm
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        Pomai,

        I had two “Whole Paychecks” in the neighborhood around my father’s house. They were a lot smaller almost like a regular grocery store. The displays were a lot smaller and were refreshed daily. Any product removed from display if still sellable but blemishes was given away to social services or a half-way house. Produce not sellable or usable was sent to pig farmers.

        Hawaii imports 90% of its foods. With tourist numbers expected to go over 10 million we might be back to importing 100% of our foods. At one time Hawaii was 100% self-sustainable. The goal of Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is to get us back to that 100% self-sustainability.

        You got a mainland grocery chain, Amazon-“Whole Paycheck”, coming in buying out local farms so they can build the large displays of locally grown organic food fresh from the farm produce for their well to do neighborhoods taking away from smaller mom and pop grocery stores trying to provide local residents with the same thing but in smaller quantities BECAUSE IN HAWAII PEOPLE HAVE GROWN UP AND BEEN TAUGHT TO TAKE ONLY WHAT IS NEEDED.

        You can read me the list of bullet points of how respectful “Whole Paycheck” indicates how it will act and preform and read all the names of the 300 locals it is employing 1,000 times but in Hawaii we live on an island and we only take from the land what we need. That is why I call this new “Whole Paycheck” store gross, stupid and disrespectful to the Hawaii values.

        What they have on display could probably stock 4 mom and pop grocery stores and when they are run out of business because of not being able to sell locally grown produce what are you going to do? Drive to “Whole Paycheck” or call and have them deliver to your house via Amazon Prime?

        It’s getting to the point people don’t know the basics of a proper daily diet, how to cook, where food comes from or how to store food uncooked and cooked.

        PS: yes it’s that time of the month for me——–what you think women have the only right!. Redondo’s as a company has an implied responsibility to make sure its products are safe to consume when they are giving written instructions on how to cook. Thats what ticked me off. They dropped the ball and I just told you my feelings about this new “Whole Paycheck” super grocery store which is on a super Walmart level. Once the local Hawaiians and local Hawaiian Regional Cuisine chefs see what they are doing to local resources I’m sure I’ll not be the only one making noise.

        Reply
        • May 11, 2018 at 9:09 pm
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          Ken,

          All that said, how can you differentiate Whole Foods from Costco, the latter of which you’ve never chastised, and often shop at?

          Costco went from originally being a bulk wholesale supplier to businesses, to now selling bulk to practically every home in the islands. Selling way more food than many households can consume, or should be consuming. 🤔

          Reply
          • May 11, 2018 at 10:03 pm
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            Pomai,
            I’ve always purchased bulk back on mainland. Got me through the blizzard 1978 when state was shut down for 10 days.

            Living in Hawaii I buy only certain items from COSTCO that excess I can vacuum wrap a put in freezer. Can goods by case last a year and other stuff about 3 months.

            Everything else I buy for food is from local farmers market or local grocery stored on a weekly based.

            As far as COSTCO selling local farm produce the packaging is for family quantity or pot luck. There is a big difference in having a farm box with produce packaged family size and a display with 1 month of a single product that goes bad.

            BTW: when I see families walking out of COSTCO with a full load there are normally 4-5 kids with parents.

            I will not use Sam Club because it is Wal-Mart

  • May 11, 2018 at 3:17 pm
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    Whole foods smartly locate their markets in neighborhoods that can afford these prices. While this store may survive at its current location it could never survive in another neighborhood. Their market research team is paid a lot of money to locate areas where their stores succeed.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 3:40 pm
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      Nani,

      I totally agree. Kahala, Kailua and now Kaka’ako in the heart of “luxury condoville” are certainly neighborhoods that fit the Whole Foods Market customer demographic.

      Reply
  • May 11, 2018 at 8:30 pm
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    Update on prices: I just had a conversation with a gal who was an Executive Chef at 3 restaurants here on Oahu, including Sorento’s Waikiki. She visited Whole Foods Queen today and had nothing but praise, including their prices. She bought Avocados there for $1.50 each, as compared to double that from other supermarkets here.

    Another gal I spoke with today from Kailua who is a regular shopper at the Kailua Whole Foods, noted prices have definitely gone down across the board since Amazon took over. It’s her go-to grocery store in Kailua now, vs. before when it was “Whole Paycheck”. 😎

    Reply
    • May 13, 2018 at 5:13 pm
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      Pomai,
      I’ve read all the bullets about what “whole Paycheck” is going to do and listen to you seat them on the right side of the father almighty. That”s what you get paid to do!

      Think about all the new big stores that have moved in to Honolulu and how those that were socially responsible signed on to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative utilizing innovative ways of energy efficiency cooling and lighting.

      So if your new star on the block “Whole Paycheck” is so responsible to treating animals and organic food right, why have they not said anything about what they are doing to adhere to Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative??

      That’s because they don’t give a dam and as for the low prices, there are always feeder sales to get you hooked so you’ll not pay attention to other produce on shelves. Oh, that’s right you don’t cook, mostly eat out so you really wouldn’t understand how the grocery stores bate and switch you.

      Reply
      • May 14, 2018 at 5:29 am
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        I generally like to read your posts, Ken. They’re often informative, and you’re clearly a thoughtful man.

        But, imo, your reply ^^^ seems awfully unfair to Pomai. Unkind, too.

        Much aloha, sir.

        Reply
        • May 15, 2018 at 4:06 pm
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          Pukapants,
          Pomai sometimes goes off on a tangent and really hangs himself out there.

          When I see that I tried to gently nudge him back on track but then there are his claws that dig in and he starts to counter with wild challenges which I try to respond to politely.

          He finally did get the message if you look below to his posting about ginger. He did tell me he was asking what Whole Foods was doing to comply with Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.

          Mahalo for your thoughts,
          Ken

          Reply
          • May 15, 2018 at 10:55 pm
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            With all due respect, it’s not your job to “nudge” Pomai’s comments so they reflect what you think is “on track”. I, for one, come to this site to read what he has to say, and I especially appreciate that he is always kind and accepting of others’ opinions, and he is never condescending. Keep doing what you’re doing, Pomai.

          • May 16, 2018 at 11:14 am
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            Ken,

            It’s all good. I enjoy our debates, as I always learn a lot from the wealth of knowledge you bring to the conversation. I still say you need to visit the new store before badgering them so badly though.

            Check out this breaking news from AP:
            Amazon to give Prime members extra discounts at Whole Foods
            https://apnews.com/e6344a4b5f1e46368051d96b1fdb0405

            Lois, mahalo for the kind thoughts. ;-)

          • May 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm
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            Lois,
            Pomai and I go round and round. We a good friends and he keeps asking if I will adopt him as my son. I enjoy his blog but sometimes he goes off on a tangent and goes way off into never never land.

            The glitz of the new Whole Paycheck store had him way too dazzled so I nudged him back to reality and went back to look at the prices for himself.

            He found Whole Paycheck selling ginger for $9.99 where you buy Hawaii grown ginger for $3,99 or less in stores.

            That was the wake-up call I wanted him to have to be cautious of mainland stores coming into Hawaii with all the glitz and glitter to blind you while they rob you blind.

  • May 12, 2018 at 12:49 pm
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    Living on the mainland, Where ever I shop I look for bargains, freshness, quality and price. No body is forcing me to spend hard earned money at one location. I go to Stater Brothers and Target for bargains, Pavillons and Trader Joes for alcohol and bargains , Sprouts for fresh produce and meats and Whole Foods for everything else including cooked food. A lot of people shop like I do and a lot don’t but Wholefoods is not going away . They have reputation for good quality food . I go there when I want to treat myself and I don’t spend my whole paycheck there, which would be ill advised. As for fitting into a community and squeezing out the little guy that ship has sailed long ago in Honolulu, e.g. Eveybody’s and Chun Hoon Supermarkets by Safeway and Foodland.

    Reply
    • May 13, 2018 at 10:49 am
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      Nani,

      Regarding the “ship that sailed out long ago in Honolulu”, so true. I’m all for the modernization of Honolulu, as long as we “keep the country, country”, and don’t urbanize and overdevelop all the outskirts. Waianae and Makaha the exception. I’m OK if developers modernize, “mainland-ize” and urbanize there, including running the rail there. Heck, put a giant Whole Foods and rail station right in front of Makaha Valley. Just kidding Ken! lol

      Update: Yesterday I tried Whole Foods Market Queen’ Chicken Pesto Pizza, and it was BOMB DOT COM! The crust is so on point! Best pizza crust! And the ooey-gooey mozzarella and pesto topping is orgasmic delicious. ;-)

      Whole Foods Market Queen Chicken Pesto Pizza

      Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 10:58 am
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    Ken,

    Here’s where Whole Foods gets their nickname “Whole Paycheck”:

    Whole Foods Organic Ginger: $9.99 per pound!

    $9.99 per pound for organic ginger? And that’s the only fresh ginger they have. On top of that, it wasn’t grown on Hawaii, it’s from Peru. Sheesh!

    As compared to Don Quijote for “conventional” ginger grown in Hawaii for $3.99/pound:

    You can buy fresh ginger even cheaper than that at the farmers market or in downtown chinatown.

    WFMQ also was selling regular (non-organic) local milk for $8.49/gallon vs. other stores where it’s usually on sale for $5.49/gallon, or Costco where it’s $4.99/gallon.

    Still, if you’re a savvy shopper, there’s some good deals to be had at WFMQ.

    Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 4:33 pm
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    Update: the photo gallery is now fully populated with the addition of the entire meat case, pastries, artisan breads, architectural design elements and much more.

    Reply
  • May 15, 2018 at 4:27 pm
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    I’m at least 75 miles from any WF outlet – or even a Target… It’s why I have to grow a lot of this myself on site. Satisfying? Yes. Exhausting? Oh yea. But hey! Ya got to do what ya got to do if you want decent food or stuff you can’t get otherwise… Still it WOULD be nice to have the option… I’m no spring chicken and all. That store looks pretty good to my aching knees :D

    Best Regards!

    Haru

    Reply
    • May 16, 2018 at 11:09 am
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      Haru, wow you must really be in the boonies out there in ‘Bama. I’ll take home-grown veggies over store-bought any day! I live in a condo, and have been meaning to start an herb garden on my balcony, but just haven’t got around to it yet. We have a community “garden” on our rooftop.

      Reply
  • May 15, 2018 at 5:39 pm
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    Great great set of pictures, Pomai, thanks for the coverage! I live near a WF here on the mainland, and it always feels like a treat to drop by, even if I purchase very little. I usually end up going to Trader Joe’s to get stuff tho, it’s just down the street, and somewhat cheaper, if not quirkier in a pleasant way. Also, couldn’t help noticing the new(?) “random post” button at the top of the page, I gotta say, very very *LIKE* that feature! I look forward to your next set of photos from the beautiful isles!

    Reply
    • May 16, 2018 at 11:07 am
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      BF,

      Everyone here in Hawaii who’s been to a Trader Joe’s wish we had one here, myself included. They would rage in our market! I hear the owners don’t want to come here because of shipping costs, that would ruin their low price point image.

      Glad you like the randomizer button. Didn’t think anyone would notice it. I also cleaned up the header area. I like it much better now with just white space, so visitors focus on content. It’s a good web design practice.

      Reply
      • May 19, 2018 at 5:21 pm
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        … and the randomizer button is gone again! It was nice while it lasted… RIP fun randomizer button! J/K! =) I’m sure there’s a very reasonable rationale for it’s withdrawal, will it be making a re-appearance at some foreseeable later date? It’s ok if not, it’s but a trivial matter. Keep the awesome pictures and commentary coming! It’s good stuff!

        Reply
        • May 19, 2018 at 7:07 pm
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          BH,
          The randomizer button is now reanabled. It was turned off temporarily while making site design tweaks to the header area to improve load speed. 😎

          Reply
          • May 20, 2018 at 10:31 am
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            Awesome boss!!! you da man! =)

    • May 17, 2018 at 5:03 pm
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      Pomai,
      I beleive Home Depot is employee owned, Sears/Kmart would be up for grabs but there is a brand identity ever since they started selling all brand trademarks which is strange as the originally started out as mail order. Walmart would cost too much to buy out and along with Walmart would come all their discount product suppliers.

      BTW; NO I will not make a special trip to WF Ward. That would be an approximately 60 mile RT to look at a store I will not be shopping in. On the other hand, Foodland is opening their second super grocery store (like in Ala Moana) in Kapolei at the new mall in a standalone building inbetween 24-Hour Fitness and Jollibee. So now there will be no need to come in town for any hard to find food products.

      Reply
  • June 27, 2018 at 5:54 pm
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    Aloha Pomai,

    Great photos and information about this store – THANK YOU!!

    OK- i have one update – the article has a photo and lists D. English for interior decor but this is not entirely accurate – D. English assisted with initial interior soffit architecture and developed initial decor ideas, many that were not part of the final design. D English fabricated and installed select components of the final store decor as well. But the lead for all interior design for this project was Carlo Carbajal of Carbajal Creative Co on Maui, in collaboration with Paul Geary – Decor Director for Whole Foods Market Southern Pacific region. The complete Queen decor package including interior decor, soffit mural designs, collaborations with artists Defer, Hitotzuki, and Skye Walker, interior and exterior signage, all seating, the mural designs in the parking entrances, Queen store branding, was designed by Carbajal Creative Co and Paul Geary in collaboration with artists above. We hope everyone likes it!!!! Don’t miss the mural above the upper bar.

    Aloha

    Reply
    • June 28, 2018 at 10:55 am
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      The majority of engineering, fabrication and installation by Nicomia, with GC Bogart on main construction and finish. Additional signage from Scott @ Jet Graphics / Honblu. A full team effort.

      Reply
      • June 28, 2018 at 11:31 am
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        Aloha Carlo,

        The caption for the D. English photo has been updated with the info’ you provided. Mahalo for providing such detailed information on who was responsible for each facet of the store’s architectural design and artwork. You folks did a fantastic job! WFQ is by far favorite new store! Go there all the time!

        Missed the mural above the upper bar. Next time I go there I’ll snap a photo of it and add it to the gallery here. ;-)

        Speaking of the photo gallery, if you have any pics of your team doing work on the store, either on-site or in your office back on Maui doing the designs, send them to me and I’ll be happy to add them to the gallery as well. That would be neat!

        Reply

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