“Keep on Truckin”
The phrase “Keep on Truckin” is more than just a motto for this family owned restaurant. It’s a way of life. A restaurant built out of the love of family, music, good food and serving the community.
Stella Blues was born approximately seventeen years ago in Kihei on the island of Maui. The atmosphere of the restaurant is semi casual and filled with tie died shirts (worn by some of the staff), warm smiling faces and décor on the walls depicting a tribute to the “Grateful Dead”.
In 1986, and Prior to Stella Blues, co-owners Ray Enis and his wife Janie, opened the first bagel shop on Maui called “Maui Bagel”. The only problem was nobody quite knew what a bagel was and the couple ended up giving bagels away for months until the bagel
caught on. They sold the bagel shop in 1990 followed by Ray and Janie taking a short sabbatical to Thailand.
Upon return to Maui, Ray wanted to open a restaurant to fill the gap between the lower and high end dinning. Thus, in 1991 the opening of the “Dead themed Restaurant” named after one the Rays favorite Grateful Dead songs… Stella Blue.
During my interview with Ray, the love of music was apparent and I finally had to ask Ray if he was a musician. He stated simply “no, I just love good music and good food”. And there is no doubt that he does.
Upon opening Stella Blues, Ray and the family thought the cliental would be more of a young and adventurous type however his customer base ended up being that of the “baby boomer” generation. The restaurant was approx 1,700 square feet and the typical lines waiting for services were averaging approximately 45 min. Ray knew they needed to expand. So when the time was right the family moved the restaurant.
In 1998 the restaurant was relocated across the street, and often referred as the “New Stella Blues” by patrons. The new restaurant is seven to eight times larger than the original and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. The employee base ranges between 70 to 100 people depending on the time of year and economic climate.
The menu is prepared by Ray’s wife Janie, which reflects a wide variety of “Home Style Cooking” that keeps you coming back for more. In fact, many of the customer comments found on companies web site, www.Stellablues.com indicates that when visiting the island of Maui, they come to Stella Blues to eat several times during there stay. Ray says they have seen some of the same tourists returning to the restaurant for the past seventeen years. Additionally, the local regulars are equally as loyal, some dinning daily since inception. Aside from the great food and unique atmosphere, the family unity is a strong draw to many local patrons.
A key player of this family restaurant is Ray’s son and general manager, Kale Boverman. The mayor of the city honored kale last year with the “Small Businessman of the Year” award. Additionally, Kale also received the “Angel Award” representative of the most donations in a calendar year given to the community. Not bad for a small family run restaurant.
Aside from the typical daily operations of the restaurant, Stella Blues also offers catering services for special events. The catering director and family partner is headed up by Kale’s hanai sister Cindy Eiting. “Cindy is a real stickler for details” says Kale.
Visions for the future includes music in the form of live bands every Friday night. The plans are to turn the back of the restaurant into a Stella Blues club. Not just any club but a “safe haven” if you will for singles and families, something Ray is very excited about. In addition to the music, flat screen TV’s are being installed throughout the restaurant, which will pipe in a variety of sporting packages throughout the year.
As the economy shifts so does the family owned business of Stella Blues. Staying true to what’s important… family, community, the love of good food and good service is what keeps their vision alive. And lets not forget the love of music and the family of the “Grateful Dead”.