But the heart and soul of this popular venue is its love of music and its vigorous commitment to family and community.
Stella Blues is layered in fascinating stories, with a deep devotion to family, customer satisfaction, fresh products—and tie-dye.
It’s been nearly two decades since Ray and Janie Ennis opened their Grateful Dead-themed restaurant, named after one of their favorite songs. They had finally found their niche between sandwich shop and fine dining, where residents and visitors of all ages and all walks of life could gather.
Cindy Eiting and Kale Boverman co-own and manage Stella Blues Café in Kīhei.
After the sudden passing of Ray last June, his son, Kale Boverman, along with hānai sister Cindy Eiting have stepped up even more at Stella Blues to ensure the progress of their popular business.
Hands-on managers and co-owners Kale and Cindy continue their family tradition, striving to maintain the restaurant’s great reputation through current economic storms—just as the legendary Dead lyrics describe, “together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.”
Although Cindy admits it’s been a rough year for everyone, she “loves this place,” and believes in their extra efforts, and hopes for the best in return.
Stella Blues’ loyal patrons are part of the “family,” and many guests are returning visitors who make it a point to eat there multiple times during their time on Maui.
“It’s all about family here. We want it to be inviting and relaxing the moment you walk in,” said Kale, a recipient of the Mayor’s 2008 “Small Businessman of the Year” award.
Kale also received the “Angel Award” for his extensive community donations, and The Maui News’ readers crowned Stella Blues the “Best Overall Restaurant 2009.” “Not bad for a business built on breakfast and lunch,” said Cindy.
From Ray’s constant fervor for music, the restaurant has sporadically brought in late-night acts and transformed the backroom into a rockin’ live venue. Such music icons as Mick Fleetwood and Dave Nelson have graced the stage at Stella Blues.
If you’re timing is right, you may even catch guitar extraordinaire Rick Vito grooving on top of the bar on occasion.
The stellar menu offers an array of delicious comfort food and includes a solid selection of vegetarian options. Maui Cattle Company provides the chemical-free beef and fresh local fish are available in variant preparations. Local produce is incorporated as much as possible.
“It’s funny—every time we try to change the menu, one of our loyal customers gets upset,” said Cindy. “So, we keep it pretty consistent, adding a few new items here and there.”
The service is always on-point, and the ono breakfast is not to be missed. Choose from a plethora of choices to start your day, or ease your pain from last night’s shenanigans. The omelets are some of the best on Maui. You can have it your way from a fine selection of veggies, meats and more.
Happy Hour is always a good time, with killer drink specials and live music from some of the brightest rising stars on Maui.
On Mondays, Cyrus Clarke delivers his great American acoustic classics, while renowned guitarist Tom Conway pleases Tuesday crowds. Wednesdays showcase the stellar talents of Tom Cherry and Mike Finkiewicz, while Thursdays and Fridays boast the sweet Hawaiian grooves of Ah Tim and Ahumanu, respectively.
The latest attraction of this Kīhei locale is their Stella’s Supper Club evenings, when two of Hawai‘i’s most talented recording artists take to the stage following an enticing four-course dinner. HAPA’s Barry Flanagan and The Island Rumours Band’s Eric Gilliom adorn this intimate occasion with their remarkable musicianship and thoughtful tales every Saturday, Jan. 23 through February.
“My dad always wanted more talents like Barry and Eric to play here like this, so it’s great to carry on in his honor,” said Kale. “And these guys are phenomenal.”
Reservations are a must for this one-of-a-kind showcase.
Also, stay tuned for Maui sweetheart Gail Swanson on Valentine’s Day.
The “rock’n’roll caterer,” Cindy has helped put together some fantastic spreads for stars such as Santana and Aerosmith, and runs the show during the day at the restaurant. Kale takes the reigns at night and you can always see the two smiling, engaging guests and ensuring that the show runs smoothly. (Ask about their catering and special events menu as well.)
“We’re just trying to carry on the family tradition,” said Kale. “Buy local first, use fresh ingredients and provide an inviting environment where guests feel at home.”
From the wonderful quality and spirit I’ve experienced from Stella Blues, it’s certainly “Built to Last.”
Stella Blues Café, located at 1279 S. Kīhei Road within the Azeka II Shopping Center, is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., with Happy Hour from 4 to 6 p.m. everyday.