Who would open a new business in the middle of a pandemic? And who would have the faith to open an eatery just a few months after several government lockdowns? An experienced Maui chef with a dream… Say hello to Zach Sato. A homegrown Maui chef with experience at the helm in luxury kitchens, boutique hotels and fine-dining, who opted to throw in the towel just weeks before the pandemic hit the islands with the goal of opening his own restaurant. But, things didn’t go as planned last year and he had to utilize all resources to stay afloat and keep food on the table for his family.
The local boy with decades of experience in fine-dining wanted to pay homage to his family and thus set-out to open a simple grab and go spot that locals would enjoy.
“I had originally planned to open a full-scale service restaurant, but then the pandemic happened and I had already put my notice in at the hotel I had been working at for 4 years. Then the government shut everything down and I wasn’t able to qualify for benefits at that point,” Chef Zach Sato explains.
“In August, I found a commercial kitchen teamed up with another caterer. In the meantime, I was looking for something like a real restaurant, take out counter or food truck. I was about to pull the trigger on a food truck and this location popped up at the last minute,” he adds.
This location in Kihei, was once home to Suda Seafood & Deli, which closed in 2019, but left a lasting impact on residents and was once a fan favorite for many. Sato set out to rekindle the love for classic local-style burgers and noodles in the same location.
“I was really familiar with this area and had a good feeling about it. I scratched the truck and just went with it. Suda’s was nostalgic old school, hana bata days, teri burgers, chow fun and saimin, simple burgers and noodles. I wanted to vibe off of that with a fresher and modern take. This has a similar feeling of something new and fun, yet familiar.”
Named after his 2 year-old daughter, Havens is a place where people feel safe, comfortable and something that reminds them of their childhood. The concept of ‘takeout only’ is efficient and easy, especially with the various government orders and distancing requirements… people can just call, stop by, pick-up and go.
“We are offering honest food, made from scratch and we aren’t doing any shortcuts. We are using high quality meat for the burgers and local buns from Homemaid Bakery, super fresh tomatoes, great noodles and making our saimin broth from scratch. We even marinate our own char siu, we are doing everything and nothing is store bought.”
But a lot of people told Sato he was crazy to think he could open a new spot during a year where unemployment was the highest in the nation and the majority of residents were out of work. “Oh yeah, people told me I was stupid or asked ‘what am I doing?’” But Sato had to do what he felt was right and had to move forward with his passion. “I’ve been cooking for 20 years, I am in my mid-30’s and I wanted to do my own thing, make my own legacy. It is good to start with this and I didn’t expect to be doing this kind of food, and it is good to get my feet wet as a businessman.”
The Chef and father took out a loan to get this business going and thankfully they have been exceptionally busy and very grateful for the support. Now he has set his sights on expanding… opening other locations and other types of dining establishments, including a full-service restaurant with sit-down dining, a bar and all the bells and whistles — eventually. For now, Havens is more than just a throwback to old nostalgia, good fresh food and in honor of his daughter and family… It is a symbol of his humble beginnings, new opportunities and a way to provide and care for his community and family.
30 Manao Kala Street, Suite 102
Kihei, HI 96753
Open 10am-3pm daily