On The Menu at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice
“Best Shave Ice in the World.” Go ahead, Google it. You’ll find Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice at the top of the list.
But despite all the awards and accolades on social media, travel sites and blogs, the leaders of Ululani’s remain humble, much like their beginnings. The business started in Vancouver, Washington in 2003, when Ululani and David Yamashiro of O‘ahu wanted to share a taste of home with residents up there. So they began making their super fine and natural shave ice at fairs and community events.
Then they moved to Maui, opening the first Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice shop on Front Street in Lāhainā and doing it all with no help: making the ice, filtering the water, crafting the syrups, handling the finances. Catering Manager Emi Evans shares this memory about David in the early years:
“We used to see him on the side of the road taking a nap because he was living in Kula, going to Lāhainā, doing all of this,” she says. “Eventually he started hiring people, little by little.”
With more staff, they opened Ululani’s 2 on Dairy Road in Kahului. The popularity of their ultra smooth shave ice and authentically natural flavors kept the momentum going. They opened a shop in Kīhei, replaced their Lāhainā store with a bigger Front Street location, and opened Ululani’s in Hyatt Regency Maui. Shave ice shops with seating have also popped up in Maui Lani and now Pā‘ia.
“We make our own ice in the back – a couple of our shops do that – and we make everything from start to finish,” explains Evans. “We use locally-sourced products: our ice cream is made here on Maui; Roselani and Coconut Glen’s. Our Toasted Coconut is from Sugar Beach Bake Shop, our Mochi is from Maui Specialty Chocolates, but it’s more than that — it’s the experience.”
Locals and visitors alike rave about that experience: the amazing flavors; the pure, smooth ice; the warm, Aloha spirit…hence that whole “Best Shave Ice in the World” thing.
“It’s like you’re eating a real piece of fruit, rather than artificial sweeteners or syrups, and that’s what really sets them apart,” expresses customer Celina Bailey.
In fact, Ululani’s has become so popular, their video on Food Network Live went viral, getting over 28 million views! Also, owners have received more than 2,000 franchise inquiries from 49 countries. Ululani’s opened its first franchise shop on Hawai‘i Island, in Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. There are also plans to have franchise operations up and running in Southern California and the Middle East in 2019.
Here on Maui, owners respect our island community and have implemented some eco-friendly measures, which you can learn about in the video above.
Ululani’s welcomes everyone, from the single customer to large groups. It also offers catering services for weddings, lūau, birthday parties and corporate events.
Customer Charles Tang says, like many of us, shave ice was ingrained in his childhood. If you grew up here, you remember the wooden spoons, which, incidentally, Ululani’s now uses again to reduce plastic.
“I’ve grown up on shave ice, I met Ulu and David, they’re incredible human beings,” adds Tang. “They really have such a cool mantra when it comes to a place that’s worthwhile to go and have some shave ice; plus it’s super delicious!!”
Learn more about the shave ice story and locations at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice website.