Hawaiʻi’s first Chick-fil-A opens in Kahului with blessing, hula and local donations
September 1, 2022, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated September 2, 1:06 PM
For new owner and operator of Hawaiʻi’s first Chick-fil-A, the freshly constructed restaurant opening today in Kahului represents more than just chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.
“That’s part of my vision: It was to come and to pour back into the community,” said Sean Whaley, independent franchised owner/operator and Maui resident. “The thing I hope (people) leave with is the understanding that it’s much more than just a chicken sandwich and waffle fries. Our goal is to be the world’s most caring company, and Chick-fil-A gives me every ability to do that.”
Chick-fil-A at 14 Ho‘okele St. in Puʻunene Shopping Center is the first in a five-year Hawai’i expansion for the brand.
Chick-fil-A at Ala Moana Center is slated to open later this year, Makiki’s restaurant is projected to open in late 2022 or early 2023 and Chick-fil-A off Kapolei Parkway and Kualaka’i is set to open in 2023, a company spokesperson told Maui Now.
Maui’s restaurant held a traditional Hawaiian blessing, maile lei untying ceremony, and hula on Wednesday for community leaders, Chick-fil-A business partners, elected officials and neighboring businesses.
Kahului’s Chick-fil-A opened to the public today at 6 a.m., and there will be “fun surprises for guests,” officials said.
Popular menu items are Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich, spicy chicken sandwich, lemonade, milkshakes and waffle fries. Healthier options include the market salad, grilled nuggets, grilled chicken sandwich, fruit bowls and other offerings.
Chick-fil-A also has an array of dipping sauces. For months leading up to the opening, residents purchased Chick-fil-A signature sauce at nearby Target and added it to other fast-food chicken sandwiches.
During a tour Tuesday, Whaley said about 160 full and part-time employees have been hired to staff Kahului’s restaurant.
He said he interviewed the majority of the employees, and when asked what they remembered about their Chick-fil-A experience, many replied that the “people were so nice.”
“That was pretty cool,” he said, laughing. “I had to ask them about the food.”
Whaley said that Hawaiian culture and Southern hospitality complement one another.
“What I’ve learned about the people I hired is that they have big hearts and they care about people,” he said.
The new restaurant is 5,013 square feet with seating for 114 people, and a 900-square-foot patio seats 46 people outside.
Restaurant tables are dressed with local flower arrangements, and Chick-fil-A Kahului design features the Hawaiian language, native landscaping and local motifs.
Chick-fil-A Kahului is open for dine-in, drive-thru and carry-out service from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Third-party delivery will be available in the near future.
Also, in lieu of Chick-fil-A’s traditional First 100 Campout event, 100 “local heroes making an impact in the community” will receive free Chick-fil-A meals for a year.
Whaley’s restaurant is participating in the “Chick-fil-A Shared Table” program, a plan that redirects surplus food from the restaurant to local soup kitchens, shelters, food banks and nonprofits. When there is surplus food, Chick-fil-A Kahului will donate it to a local community partner.
To find out more about Chick-fil-A’s Hawai’i restaurants, visit the Hawai’i website.