October 2013: Mana Foods celebrates 30th birthday

Everyone from Woody Harrelson to Willie Nelson has shopped there, and you can "feel the mana" in the aisles. We're talking about the illustrious Mana Foods in Paia, which will offer deals for its 30th anniversary from October 27 to Halloween. "The celebration shows our appreciation for the continued support," says partner Sunette Fenn. "We invite everyone to come in and enjoy samples, delicious demos, deeper discounts and daily raffles.In addition, while supplies last, anyone that spends $200 or more will receive a swag bag containing a variety of awesome Mana Foods goodies." Mana will introduce new fresh pasta made in house by Marco Graziani, who hails from Avezzano, Italy, outside of Rome. Graziani is also the store's cheese buyer and he really knows his stuff. His wife, Dana Graziani, helps him out on the pasta machine and they churn out fresh raviolis, say stuffed with fresh spinach and ricotta cheese. They're working on gluten-free pastas now. The couple will demo their latest spins on fresh pasta from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, October 28, and fresh pasta dishes will be offered daily at the deli. Mana Food's deli selection is hugely popular, and Deli Chef Ann Gale has been running a tight ship or 16 years now. "She's phenomenal," says Fenn. "She makes her famous Pad Thai noodles, and her rosemary chicken is legendary. Ann's pork quesadillas are already wiped out today, they went so fast and she's got new and really tasty vegetarian millet burgers, too.

Vegan carrot-cake cupcakes and new chocolate-chip man-nut cookies are all the rage with the Paia set. Raw food Chefs Glenn Carpenter and Ben Friedlander make some tasty raw lilikoi-raspberry crepes, carrot-cashew pates, and dried kale krisps for a crunchy snack. Raw mocha toddies are made with organic cold-pressed macadamia nut milk and raw chocolate. Plus, the salad bar is always a big hit. Also new are Maui Kombucha drinks in at least two flavors. Looking for produce? Mana Foods sells 90 percent organic and and 50 percent local produce, according to Produce Manager Gary Butler, who brings in unusual items from small farms.

"We have a strong, creative team of people with great ideas," says partner Chris Ozee. "A lot of Mana's success is due to listening to our customers' requests. We hear what they want and do our best to get it." On Halloween, employees will be dressing in costumes. "Halloween is the last day of our birthday celebration, and we will be giving away healthy treats for the keiki, so come on by," says Fenn. "We hope to see you there!'

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June 2011

In response to the March 2011 disaster in Japan, Mana Foods participated in the Jeans for Japan fundraiser, offering to match funds dollar for dollar, up to 10,000. A big mahalo to the customers of Mana Foods, who donated $10, 000. $3300 were donated at the register and an anonymous donor has donated $6700 for a total of $10,000 from the community. Mana Foods matched this amount, bringing collective donation total to $20,000 for Japan relief.

The Aloha Initiative organizers today announced that over $35,000 has been received through the “Wear Jeans for Japan” fundraising effort held last month. Out of the total funds received, Mana Foods donated $20,000 through donations made by its customers, employees, and owners.This money is going to the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui’s Japan relief effort, The Aloha Initiative . This program raises funds to bring evacuees from the recent Japanese nuclear disaster to Maui and matches them with families who have volunteered to “open up their hearts and homes.”

As a result of Mana Foods generating the most donations per employee, Mayor Alan Arakawa today presented the “Wear Jeans for Japan” award to Theresa and Edward Thielk, owners of Mana Foods.

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Photo: L-R, Managing Director Keith Regan, Theresa and Edward Thielk of Mana Foods , Lynn Araki-Regan and Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. 

The Maui News April 2010

Ronie Hong of Mana Foods in Paia organizes the tempting options on the Wall of Chocolate near the store’s front entrance.   On Earth Day, we'll have chocolate demos with the Endangered Species brand," says Theresa Thielk, Mana's office manager. "They give 10 percent of the gross sales to conservation." Mana Foods houses what is called the "Wall of Chocolate" near the front door, featuring pure cacao of the gourmet and organic kind from domestic and international sources. Mana Foods will also feature discounts on Seventh Generation eco products today as well as selected local health and beauty vendor items. Saturday, Mana Foods will also be jumping with demos and tastings all day by local farmers, growers and vendors during its normal hours from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Call 579-8078. - By Carla Tracy

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February 2010: Retailing’s Unsung Heroes: Mana Foods From The Journal of Commerce, February 2010 edition

"And so it was during a vacation to Hawaii last month that my wife and I found ourselves in the small Maui town of Pa’ia, a few miles south of Kahului, where we happened upon the Mana Foods Market. Having read the name in a guidebook, in we went. At the end of more than an hour, we had purchased a few items, but had a great time just the same wanderingthe aisles. In fact, I found the store so interesting and the variety of items so remarkable that I called the store a few days later to see if they would speak with me about how they managed to get so much stuff into so little space and how they managed the logistics.

To my delight, Sunette Fenn, one of Mana Foods’ founders, was generous enough to take 30 or 40 minutes of her time to speak with me about the business, especially the logistics. Just for some perspective: The Mana Foods store is about 6,500 square feet, and the company has an order book of some 30,000 items that appear on the shelves. According to the Food Marketing Institute, the average size of a grocery store in America was 46,755 square feet in 2008 and stocked approximately 47,000 items. It’s worth noting Hawaii is the most isolated island chain in the world; Maui’s population was 143,574 in 2008, and Pa’ia is very small. So how does Mana Foods do it? The specifics — no direct imports, a large number of distributor suppliers, dedicated staff, and constant attention to customer wants and needs — are less important than the fact it does it and has been doing it every day, every week, every month, for more than 25 years; and to be sure, without the awareness of virtually all of their customers — except, of course, for the random visit of a geek from the mainland. Thanks, Sunette, I appreciate your time and the Mana Foods story. Your copy of this column will be on its (electronic) way to you soon." JOC Barry Horowitz is the principal at CMS Consulting Services. He can be contacted at 503-208-2232, or at barryh@cms-cs.com.

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The Maui News October 29, 2009

Mana Foods celebrates 25 years with giveaways, demos, prizes, lots of Halloween funIt started out 25 years ago in Paia as a tiny hole in the wall that sold only fresh-squeezed juices. Now, Mana Foods is the most powerful health food store on island with over 100 employees.

These days, Mana Foods features more than vegetarian options. There is a department packed with natural gourmet meat and seafood, a deli headed by Thai Chef Suphan Ann Gale, a bakery, a vitamin room, the famous wall of chocolate, and household and pet items.

"We always try hard to have our food be affordable. We are just doing the customer appreciation week to thank the community," says partner Sunette Fenn, who runs the store with founder Ed Thielk and his sister, Theresa Thielk, along with partner Chris Ozee.

This year, Mana Foods was nominated for the Mayor's Small Business Award. It was also named "Best Health Food Store" on the island in The Maui News. - By Carla Tracy

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Esquire Magazine February 26, 2009

The unranked, incomplete, and unimpeachable list of the best breakfasts across the country. No brunch allowed. The breakfast burrito is open to interpretation, which is both its genius and its potential downfall. Using the kitchen-sink approach, anything that can be jammed into a tortilla along with eggs — rice, bacon, beans, onions, sausage, sour cream, enough cheese to pave a road — is considered a fine addition. But as the cooks at Mana Foods demonstrate each morning, the key to perfection is restraint. Mana's contains only organic scrambled eggs accented with just enough cheddar to let you know it's there, small potato chunks sautéed in butter, and a sprinkle of diced green pepper. — Susan Casey

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Yogi Times Magazine May 2005

"Yogi Times is out to explore the "hotspots" in our community  where yogis can go to find interesting things to do, hidden treasures and mindful gifts from off the beaten path. Not your everyday trip to the mall, we search for special spots that will appeal to those who are looking for more than your basic retail. This month we took a flight to Paia in Maui, Hawaii. Paia, known for its abundant sugar plantations, is situated on the north shore of Maui with beautiful beaches protected by a barrier reef. It is a quaint, coastal town with brightly painted buildings and a strong, health-conscious community. You can get healthy snacks, delicious crepes, fill up the tank or rent a surfboard. It is the last town on the exquisitely scenic road to Hana, here are some of Paia's highlights."#1. Mana Foods Grocery-Bakery-Deli "Whether you're looking for your favorite nutritional bar or to just grab a "raw meal" to go, Mana Foods has it all! We were surprised to find all our goodies from the mainland, including French gourmet goat cheese, and our special soy milk. Almost everyone in Paia pays a visit at least once a day to Mana, making this modest yet extensive grocery store a community hot spot!"

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Innov8 Magazine

"Mana Foods in Paia might be the best organic grocer store in the islands. Actually, it might be the best grocery store, organic or not. With an incredible selection of fresh local produce and meats, Mana provides an exceptional shopping experience. And don't even get me started about the chocolate wall and their selection of cheeses, it's heavenly!The absolute highlight though his grabbing a breakfast burrito to go on your way to Hana. Nothing compliments cruising the Road to Hana more than this delicious, yet restrained, Zen burrito. Every employee is friendly and helpful, contributing to a great in-store vibe. Mana Foods has been in business for 25 year and supports over 300 local vendors. Proof positive that doing the right thing and doing what you love are the keys to success."

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