Lucio Calina Jr.'s got more entrepreneurship in his little finger than most people have in their entire households. He's putting it to good use as chef-owner of Local Mocha Cafe in Pukalani.
"I was raised in Haliimaile and spent 24 years in the Air Force," says Calina. "I loved dining everywhere I went in the world and after culinary school I came back and worked at Haliimaile General Store. I became enamored with Pacific Rim cuisine there."
Calina also helped to open Genki Sushi and bought a little coffee shop called Island Breeze Lighthouse, where his claim to fame was bringing Komoda Store doughnuts down to Kahului town."
Master Sushi Chef Sadao Kojima (left) and Chef-owner Lucio Calina Jr. bring a gourmet taste to Local Mocha Cafe in Pukalani Square.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"In Las Vegas, I cooked at the MGM Grand Casino at Nob Hill with acclaimed chef Michael Mina, and in catering and conventions there doing parties for stars such as Tom Jones and the Eagles."
His Local Mocha Cafe is a nice mix of breakfast, lunch and sushi during dinner. Calina recently hired Master Sushi Chef Sadao Kojima, who many of you know from Isana and Cafe O' Lei sushi bars.
For now, you may BYOB and dine indoors in the food court of the cafe or outdoors on the lanai. Maui performer Eric Gilliom was just spotted there. And you'll find artist Darshan Zenith's works hanging on the walls. It's a fun, eclectic place for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.
"We have live music on Fridays and Saturdays," Calina says. "The cafe side is also open for dinner on the weekends. So you can order from the cafe and your spouse can order from the sushi bar."
On a recent Saturday, the garden area was party central with an outdoor barbecue for 50 people. It's cool and offers views of Haleakala.
"This weekend I did hickory-smoked beer-can chicken, guava-glazed baby-back ribs, and island-style kalbi with choice of white, brown or hapa rice."
"Sometimes we do fish specials on the cafe side, such as tilapia with black bean or chile garlic sauce. We get requests from customers. But I don't like to compete with Sadao on the fish side. Right now, he's got a salmon teriyaki special, baked mussels, which everyone is raving about, and crunchy spicy tuna roll."
As for breakfast, Calina is also a member of Maui Coffee Association and the coffee he pours is 10 percent Maui blend with beans from Kauai, Kona and Molokai thrown into the mix. "It's a nice city roast," he says.
While the restaurant is closed Sundays, it serves breakfast weekdays from 6 to 10:30 a.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Check out the house-made bread pudding with dark rum butter and Mom's cinnamon rolls. "I call this Local Mocha because we serve local grinds made with fresh local produce, local style," says Calina. Call 573-2859.