Liliha Bakery Nimitz Grand Opening Press Preview

Honolulu’s mainstream media, along with bloggers and social media folks such as myself were invited to a VIP press preview party this past Tuesday to showcase what will be offered starting on their grand opening today, Friday, October 17, 2014 of the new and still very exciting Liliha Bakery on Nimitz Highway. Finally! Yay!


Liliha Bakery owner Peter Kim, Social Media Manager Shanae Kamakawiwo’ole and Liliha Bakery Head Baker Stan Imai (of Bakery Kapiolani fame!) @ Liliha Bakery Nimitz Press Preview Grand Opening Party on 10.14.14

This, coming months since their “soft” opening this past July, going through a painful teething period, as Yelpers and other social media sources went viral and totally clobbered them in reviews. Not surprisingly, mostly over poor service, while they tried tirelessly to work out various snags in the system. Snags ranging from logistics, equipment, and most of all, their computer POS system, which really swept them under the bus. Not to mention the droves of people who showed up there, far exceeding their expectations. Where owner Peter Kim and his left-hand man, Vice President Lawrence only expected about 200 covers per day while they started up, they were getting on average nearly 1000 per day! Nice, yet tough problem to deal with, right?


Liliha Bakery Vice President Lawrence with “The Tasty Island Guy” Pomai @ Liliha Bakery Nimitz Press Preview Grand Opening Party on 10.14.14

Well, yes, yes it was. While their bottom line was happy, many customers were not. You name it: Not finding parking. Waiting too long to be seated. Wrong orders. Orders taking too long to arrive. And more rarely, unsatisfactory food and rude to no service.


Liliha Bakery owner Peter Kim with “The Tasty Island Guy” Pomai @ Liliha Bakery Nimitz Press Preview Grand Opening Party on 10.14.14

Fast forward to today, after having gone through not one, not two, but now THREE POS systems and a very costly investment of replacing every piece of computer equipment in the restaurant, plus software, they finally found the system that works properly and doesn’t create a snowball effect of problems called Digital Dining. Their previous system was creating all kinds of headaches, from not placing orders at all, mixing up tables, to double-ordering. And it was NOT the staff making incorrect inputs. Their new system is so reliable, that Peter finally made the call that they’re ready for the “Big Day”. And that day is TODAY! Yay!


Head Baker Stan Imai with Pomai @ Liliha Bakery Nimitz Press Preview Grand Opening Party on 10.14.14 (I’m not holding his hands, OK? lol)

A little background about Stan Imai: he comes from Bakery Kapiolani, who used to have a shop on Kapiolani Boulevard where Nordstrom now stands, plus another on King Street, and also, IIRC, in Aiea. Bakery Kapiolani was founded and ran for decades by his father Ted, and then him.

He says Bakery Kapiolani’s most popular item was their Peach Bavarian. Any of you folks who remember Bakery Kapiolani and the Imai family running it might want to chime on that. Stan’s a super nice and humble guy!

When the landlord told them they had to get out, with acceptance from his father, Stan sold the business and retired for a a few years. Then the opportunity came about recently when Liliha Bakery was looking for a new Head Baker, and he took the position. He now runs the bakery (not the front-end that serves the coffee shop food) at both the original location in Liliha, as well as the new one here on Nimitz. He noted that he often has to drive to and from both locations to check-up on things, which you can imagine how tough! Yet he’s very passionate about Liliha Bakery’s products and the quality they put out. They got the right guy!

The VIP press preview party served guests sample portions of Liliha Bakery’s most popular dishes, including of course their pastries…

Let’s get a closer look…

Strawberry, Green Tea and Mango Rolls…

Da’ Kine…

Russian Cookies…

Danish…

Savory rolls…

Cornbread ‘n stuff…

Turnovers…

Green Tea Puffs…

To note on their pastries, you might be wondering how many Coco Puffs they sell a day. While I couldn’t get a specific number out of Lawrence, he told me they sell “thousands a day”. Interestingly, the Liliha location still outsells the Nimitz location in Coco Puffs. Another fact is, the Lilliha location’s coffee shop has 26 seats, while the Nimitz Location has 145 seats, give or take.

Their famous Hot Cakes and Waffles…

The classic all-American Diner style Hash Browns ‘n Omelet with Ketchup and Hamburger Steak…

Everyone’s favorite accompaniment to most dishes at Liliha Bakery’s Coffee Shop, their Butter Rolls with “Volcano Jelly”…

I think we should zoom in tighter on their “Volcanic Butter Roll”…

Salad ‘n Taro Rolls…

A new menu item exclusive to the Nimitz location that was supposed to be served during soft opening,however is only now being introduced, is their Spicy Baby Back Ribs…

Ditto for their “signature” Prime Rib…

Let’s get a cut of THAT!…

A new dish Peter is contemplating adding to the Nimitz menu is Sauteed Shrimp and Scallop…

Cocktails being served included Cakebread Cellars Riesling…

Along with a Frank Family Vineyards Cab’…

Plus Heineken, Orange Juice and Iced Coffee.

Familiar faces that attended the event included Nadine Kam of the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Dan Cooke and Howard Dicus of Hawaii News Now, and Olena Rubin Heu from FrolicHawaii.com (formerly KHON2), amongst many more.

And how were the samples?

I tried the Butter Rolls with “Volcano” Jelly, and it was as great as everyone on Yelp raves about. They ain’t lyin’, as these are BUTTERY rolls, for sure!

The Prime Rib was cooked to perfection and tender as can be, however even with my low tolerance for salt, I think it could have used more when the Chef prepared it. I must say, their house-made creamy horseradish and Au Jus served with it totally nails it. The horseradish has lots of “bite”, while the Au Jus is super beefy, with lots of depth and character. Very nice!

The “Spicy” Ribs weren’t spicy at all, and while tender, I think should have been finished on a fire grill, not baked in an even, which is how they tasted.

Thankfully the Frank Family Vineyards Cab’ balanced out what was amiss in both meat dishes I tried. Very nice wine for the evening.

The Sauteed garlic butter-infused Shrimp and Scallops with a spicy aioli type of sauce was absolutely fantastic, as it should be, being they were cooked to order (pretty much). By far my favorite of what I sampled that evening on the savory side. Peter mentioned contemplating adding this to the menu, however, while fitting for the demographic of the evening, I’m not sure if the local crowd that frequents Liliha’s Coffee Shop will go for it, especially considering it will probably be at high price point, being seafood ‘n all.

The Waffle and Hot Cake were absolutely to die for, which I can see now why folks are so loyal to Liliha. So get that!

VIP guests were each given a unique Liliha Bakery “press kit”…

As you see in the bottom right corner, it includes a bottle of the “Atomic/Nuclear/Volcanic” signature Liliha Bakery Jelly…

Liliha Bakery Nimitz grand opening celebration starts today, October 17th, through October 23rd. During this time, every person will receive a free Coco Puff when you dine-in, while a dozen Coco Puffs to-go will be discounted at $11.99, which is about 40% off their regular price, individually. This is Liliha Bakery’s way of saying mahalo to everyone for their patience and patronage.

And I’d like to say huge, HUGE mahalos to Lynette Lo Tom of Bright Light Marketing, Peter, Lawrence, Shanae, Stan, as well as the entire Lilha Bakery Nimitz team for throwing such a FANTASTIC press preview party, as well as all your hard work and dedication in making LB II truly a gem in Honolulu’s dining scene. You folks ROCK!

Liliha Bakery II
580 N. Nimitz Hwy.
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817
Tel. (808) 537-2488

Related links:
Liliha Bakery – official website
Liliha Bakery II (Nimitz) – Yelp user reviews
Liliha Bakery (original location) – Yelp user reviews
Liliha Bakery – TripAdvisor user reviews

The Tasty Island related links:
Liliha Bakery Nimitz Now Open!
Liliha Bakery Nimitz June 2014 Update
Liliha Bakery Nimitz Update
Liliha Bakery’s Famous Coco Puffs
Liliha Bakery’s Coco Puff Cake