Sustainably Healthy Fare

Please tell us about your business. Common Ground is a sustainable resource center located in Kilauea (formerly a portion of Guava Kai plantation). The business includes a restaurant that uses produce grown on our land, which encompasses about 50 acres. We also offer a catering service for special occasions, and we have a venue for large-scale events. People can come to this beautiful place to eat, hike to stone dam, relax with their kids and improve their health without even knowing it.

We are family-friendly and we want to make this an easy, healthy and economical place for families to visit — it educates the kids about what they’re eating and how to maintain their health through nutrition.

What is so unique about your restaurant? We work with a farmer who grows a variety of food on our land, such as lettuce, kale, cucumbers and broccoli — about 30 or 40 different items of produce, which amounts to about 400 pounds a week. We also support about eight to 10 local organic farmers from around the island. We try to make sure everything is as fresh and organic as possible. Everything we offer has some aspect of coming from the garden. Our other ingredients, like fish, are also 100 percent from local sellers. So when you come to Common Ground, you know that you’re getting the best fresh and local ingredients possible.

What else do you do to achieve self-sufficiency? All of our to-go products are recyclable. In everything we do, we try to be as eco-friendly as possible, down to the soap in our bathrooms.

Why did you start this business? Initially, when I acquired Common Ground in 2007, the idea was to let this place have a path of its own in community development and stewardship around sustainability issues. I wanted to create a financial foundation that Common Ground can not only build on, but also can grow and make it easy for other people to see the value in doing something similar in their community. I feel like all communities need a really great organic garden, and a healthy organic restaurant that tells an educational story about food, sustainability and health. Not only does it create jobs, but it references that relationship we all have with the land in a smart way.

What is so important about eating healthy?When you eat from the garden to your plate, you’re getting the optimal amount of nutrition in your food. And if we can make healthy food taste good, we believe we can really change people’s perception of the way they eat. We’re improving your health with every bite.

What kind of changes have you made recently at Common Ground? On Aug. 19, we started offering an upscale table service dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with special event Fridays, so that it’s easy for people to try a range of tasty, healthy entrées. We have about five menu items that include options like fish, lamb, beef or rib-eye as well as vegetarian and vegan. The best part of the dinner concept is to have food available for the adults and kids. It makes it easy for families to bring their kids and feel good about what they’re feeding them and imagine similar things they can make at home. And the kids are eating well and they don’t even know it because they like the way it tastes.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business? The people who acknowledge the great, quality food they get at Common Ground that is coming from the local community, and who understand that it’s truly healthy. I appreciate the way they express their gratitude to me — it feels great. It’s like I’m giving them medicine they can’t get anywhere else. My greatest joy comes from the positive reinforcement by the people who really understand sustainability and food.

What are some of your plans for this future of business? We’d like it to be more eco-friendly and leading edge. We’d like to bring in speakers and create a dialogue in the community about these kinds of issues. As part of our dinner offering, we’d like to have speaker nights geared toward certain sustainable issues — doctors, farmers and people from all walks of life who will make people think.

What’s your favorite meal here? The Veggie Burrito and the Mighty Green Salad (kale and macadamia nuts). They are so nourishing and fresh and really nutritious.

Lunch: Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner: Tuesday to Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Weekend brunch: Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Closed Mondays

4900 Kuawa Road cgkauai.net

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