I had started a post a while back about how unbelievably delicious Molokai bread is, particularly, the “Molokai hot bread.” An oversized dinner roll stuffed with a sweet, sugary glob of goodness; the goodness being cream cheese, cinnamon and your pick of a fruit filling. I could go on and on about how it tastes the best when it’s really hot, as in straight from the bakery during those late-night runs, as it’s been deemed on the island.
No more hot bread for now…until the bakery cleans up its act, literally.
I never got around to finishing that post. And now, it looks like I won’t be for a while. All those scrumptious details I began writing, null and void. Why? Because the state Department of Health recently shut down the famed bread makers, better known as Kanemitsu Bakery, for its unsanitary conditions. It wasn’t a complete shock, however, since they’ve been in the news recently. First, a $90,000 penalty for similar violations during routine inspections in March. Then earlier this month, an anonymous public complaint alleging that insects and foreign substances were found in the bakery’s bread rolls led to a second investigation. Hence, its closure this week after finding “serious deficiencies.” Rodents, gross.
Of course, it’s always sad to see a mom-and-pop close. But in the case of Kanemitsu Bakery, it’s more disappointing, almost selfish. Why didn’t the owner take action after the first round of health inspections? Why risk the safety of his loyal patrons by continuing to operate a facility that had already been revealed as unsanitary. Did I mention, rodents? Unclean food preparation surfaces, lack of soap and hand towels and the list goes on. Was he just too proud or just too lazy to face the facts that – what I’m now finding out from my friends – had been apparent all these years. Dust-covered pastry displays – oh, and the flies inside – hadn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, some laughed when I brought up the bakery’s closure with them. It’s about time, they told me.
In the owner’s defense, maybe he couldn’t afford to pay the fines. But that’s still no excuse to continue business as usual. Do what any other business would have done – shut down temporarily and figure it out. Did he think the problems would just go away or be forgotten? Yes, Molokai is a small island, but it’s difficult to forget about the huge bomb that’s been dropped on this culinary landmark which has made an island staple for decades.
Reading the list of health violations has definitely made me lose my appetite for Molokai hot bread or any menu item, for that matter. I can think of a dozen adjectives to describe my disgust. “Yuck,” “gross,” “distasteful.” But “shame” comes to mind. How embarrassing for the bakery that has, over time, become a first stop for many of our visitors, a place of nostalgia for many of the locals. I know that until I hear that they’ve met all health standards, I won’t be directing any of our readers their way.