Welcome To Cafe O’Lei At The Dunes In Maui Hawaii
Have you ever had a meal at a place so beautiful you felt like you were sitting inside a painting? Cafe O’Lei At The Dunes in Maui Hawaii has exactly that vibe! During our recent honeymoon we had the honor of being hosted at this lovely restaurant tucked away from the world with a dining experience guaranteed to please any foodie.
The food here is phenomenal and there isn’t a single thing that we tried that we didn’t enjoy. Plus, amazing cocktails like the Maui Wowie, that serve as a reminder that you’re indeed in paradise. What more could you ask for? 5 star service? They have that too! Let’s just say, you better visit here when you come to Maui. You won’t be disappointed.
Cherub Lang, the Sales and Marketing Director for all of the Cafe O’lei family of restaurants also let me interview her about her family’s business and what it’s like managing several restaurants in beautiful Maui.
If you’ve ever been to Maui, it’s possible you’ve dined at one of their four different locations at some point. I’m happy to say I have now dined at three of them, I guess that means I’ll need to plan a return trip to visit the last one!
Interview with Cherub Lang, Sales & Marketing Director for Cafe O’Lei Restaurants
Natasha: Where did Cafe O’Lei first begin?
Cherub: My mom, Dana Pastula, started Cafe O’Lei in 1997 in Makawao. With a tiny kitchen and only 5 tables outside, she was a one-woman show. Not too long after, my dad Mike Pastula, left his executive chef position at the Outrigger Resort in Wailea to join forces with my mom and expand their business.
Natasha: What do you love most about running a restaurant business?
Cherub: At least for our restaurant business, I love that I get to work with my family. We have four restaurants and a fairly large banquet and catering operation so it can get pretty intense at times. I love that we can always go to each other for support. I also love that our jobs are divided up playing to our own strengths and abilities.
My sister, Claire, is the General Manager for Cafe O’Lei at the Dunes and also oversees our Banquet and Catering Department. Her husband, Darren, is the General Manager for our south side operations – Cafe O’Lei Kihei, ámi ámi Bar & Grill and Kamaole Poolside Cafe. My husband, Dan, is the CEO of the company. And I manage the Purchasing and Budgeting for the company as well as Sales & Marketing. My parents are also still very much involved and are often the final decision makers. We are very fortunate to have their guidance and support.
Natasha: What’s the biggest struggle?
Cherub: Ha! Also working with family!
It’s hard to separate work from family. We have never had a meal together without talking about work. We always start off saying we won’t talk about work but we always do anyway. We laugh about it all the time.
Natasha: What are some of your favorite menu items that you offer at your restaurants?
Cherub: There are lots, but my all-time favorite is my dad’s Asian Braised Short Ribs.
Natasha: Yes! Me too! It was my favorite dish that we tried at Cafe O’lei at the Dunes. A must order!
Cherub: When my husband was in the military, we moved around quite a bit. As a result, I wasn’t able to see my family nearly as much as I wanted to. One year when my parents were visiting, I made my dad teach my husband how to make his infamous short ribs. It has always been my go-to comfort food and every time I had it, it would remind me of home. That dish alone has helped me get through many homesick days.
Now that I’m back on Maui, I can have it daily if I wanted to but I make it a point to rarely order it. It helps keep the memory of it special to me.
Natasha: When you’re not working, what is your favorite thing to do in Maui?
Cherub: Definitely spending time with my husband and our three boys (ages 9, 7 and 4). We love gardening and being outdoors. My 9-year-old is currently trying to teach me how to skateboard—that’s his Christmas present to me. Ha! My 7-year-old is a self proclaimed Lego Master Builder and enjoys showing off his latest creations. And my 4-year-old is the ring leader in the family and can basically get his big brothers (and sometimes his mom and dad) to do anything he wants. It’s quite a skill that he has mastered!
Natasha: What’s next for Cafe O’Lei and where can people learn more about you?
Cherub: We want to continue to focus on what got us here—great service, quality food and fresh ingredients, all at a great value. I am so proud of our business, with how we got here, and the fact that it’s locally owned and family-run for nearly 23 years. I think what’s next for us is that we just want to make the founders of this company, my mom and dad, proud of us and do right with them.
You can learn more about us by visiting our website, cafeoleirestaurants.com. You can also find us on Facebook (Cafe O’Lei Restaurants) and on Instagram (@cafeolei_maui). For banquet and catering info, you can follow us on our new social media platforms on Facebook (Cafe O’Lei Catering) and on Instagram (@cafeolei_catering).
A big Mahalo to Cherub and her family for taking such good care of us when we dined with them on our honeymoon. You can really tell that they love what they do and I can’t recommend them enough to anyone planning a getaway to Maui. It will be a place we return to again and again.
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