Vineyard Food Co. & Soup to Nuts Catering are Favorites in Wailuku
By Susan Halas
Ralph Giles and Daniel Southmayd are co-owners of the Vineyard Food Company – a small lunch restaurant in Wailuku. The storefront also houses their popular Soup to Nuts Catering business which has continued to expand.
The lunch spot is popular with people who work in the neighborhood. It’s cheerful, tidy and not too expensive. Also it’s conveniently located within walking distance of most Wailuku offices.
The food is simple, tasty, healthy. The Seared Ahi with a salad of mixed Kula Greens and Mango dressing on the side is a standout. The entrée featuring five flavorful strips of fish lightly accented with cracked pepper and sesame seed is good value at $8.50.
Vineyard Food also offers a variety of vegetarian and deli sandwiches and wraps all priced under $9. The one that several diners named as a favorite was the curried chicken salad sandwich.
The cold case display a variety of side dishes including vegetarian offerings like fried rice, Molokai sweet potato, bow tie pasta with Italian dressing and stuffed tortellini.
Lunch specials change daily. The Herbed Butter Baked Mahi entree was $6.95 , or $7.95 with a side salad. It was tasty and nicely presented.
“We try to keep it all under $10,” said Giles. The average tab is about $12.
Their changing array of sweets and baked goods are a best buy. Though only a few are listed on the menu, a quick peek at the display case will give you a good idea of what’s available.
Individual pieces are reasonably priced between 75 cents to about $2 a slice and will satisfy a craving for dessert without busting the wallet. The Mango Cheesecake slice was big enough for two people. All of the items using fresh island fruit and juices like lilikoi, lime, or mango were delicious and the portions were generous.
Southmayd noted the piquant lilikoi essence he uses in cookies and a cake filling is a local update adapted from his Boston great-grandmother’s recipe.
About 75% of the diners are from the neighborhood. Some like Noreen Sereno come in frequently. Others like her daughter Nikoya Collier are trying the restaurant for the first time. “It’s a real life saver, we’re in here all the time,” said Carolee Higashino, their next-door neighbor who owns A White Orchid Wedding.
Even though Vineyard Food Company has earned a solid reputation in a relatively short time, lunch is not the main event. “If we were just lunch we’d be out of business,” Giles said.
They’re far better known for the catering company Soup to Nuts. Though it’s only January and there are already over a hundred dates reserved for 2012. Giles said the catering business evolved from his earlier love of cooking, first as a hobby, then as a private chef and finally as a full service catering firm.
The catering operation began in 2006 and it soon outgrew its old quarters. By 2010 they found a bigger space with a commercial kitchen on Vineyard St. It started with the kitchen and deli. Then last year they added a dining room.
The small eatery is divided into two parts: on the left is for ordering and display. There’s a chalkboard listing the specials of the day. Next door is a pleasant, small dining room seating 32 on white wood chairs and tile topped tables.
The restaurant dining room is available for meetings and small events at a nominal fee of $40 for a two hour minimum. It is also the site of the weekly Wailuku Rotary Club meeting and welcomes others to make use of the space.
Last year the pair hosted a series of sold-out special event dinners. Come March they hope to be open Friday and Saturday evenings. “We’re working on the menus now,” said Southmayd.
Vineyard Food Company
Soup to Nuts Catering
1951 East Vineyard St.
Wailuku, Maui 243-3663
Open for lunch Monday to Friday 10 to 2. Usually open in the evening for First Friday.
Eat in or cary-out. [email protected]