The European-style restaurant located on Market Street in Wailuku featured wine tastings, art exhibits and a much-needed venue for live, late-night music. Some of Maui’s best musicians, such as Gene Argel, Sal Godinez, Renata Cordiero, the Ha‘ikü Hillbillies and Dr. Nat, to name a few, were regulars for years at the Wailuku night spot.
“We just haven’t been able to make ends meet with the tough economy,” said café General Manager Rose Fernandes. “Our evenings have slowly turned into a ghost town. Furlough Fridays have affected our business as well.”
Fernandes revealed that although Café Marc Aurel is gone, Wailuku Coffee Company, a new business owned by the same hui that owned the café, will open on Tuesday, June 1. The grand opening party will be held during the Wailuku First Friday event on June 4.
Café Marc Aurel closed on May 15, and Wailuku Coffee Company will hold its grand opening during Wailuku First Friday on June 4.
The new business will offer fresh salads, made-to-order sandwiches, soup and pastries. Wailuku Coffee Company will also host monthly art exhibits and remain open late for First Fridays with live entertainment supporting the Arts Education for Children Group.
“We look forward to a successful future supporting the Wailuku community,” said Fernandes. “Hopefully in the future we will be able to open for dinner as well. But at this time, Wailuku is just too slow in the evening.”
She thanked the community for supporting “Marc’s passion.”
“Café Marc Aurel was a definite bright spot in the ongoing revitalization of Wailuku,” said Jocelyn Perreira, executive director of the Wailuku Main Street Association Inc./Tri-Isle Main Street Resource Center. She said that the café, which provided a place for after-hours meetings and social gatherings, and was frequented by locals, businesses and visitors, will be missed. “Unfortunately, we are currently facing the challenge of tough economic times.”
Artist and gallery owner Pat Masumoto echoed Perreira’s sentiments. “Café Marc Aurel served a purpose—especially after work in mid-week. The atmosphere was such that I could pop in and enjoy the familiarity of friendship. Seeing artist-types, business people, others in politics… I’m going to miss that.”
“I like it as a lunch spot, but think it might make sense for it to close in the evening,” said mayoral candidate Orion Koppelman. “Whenever I’ve frequented the café, it’s always been to enjoy the outdoor setting during lunchtime.”
Godinez, a well-known Maui musician, said that that the loss of Café Marc Aurel leaves a hole in Maui’s music scene. “I think Fred Turner, former chair and CEO of McDonald’s, put it the best when talking about Café Marc Aurel: ‘… I come in here and I feel like I’m in a club back in Chicago or New York. Small, intimate and great music.’ He is coming back this summer and I know he is going to be surprised that there is no more music there.”
Former Planning Director Chris Hart, a businessperson and an announced mayoral candidate who lives and works in Wailuku, said, “It’s a loss to Market Street and to Wailuku. I am an advocate for the revitalization of Wailuku. It’s great that the same group of people is going to be running it. The café started out as a coffee shop. It was a very nice place to go to have a fine glass of wine.”
“The closing of Cafë Marc Aurel feels a little like losing an old friend,” said Deidre Tegarden, coordinator of the Maui County Office of Economic Development. “It’s long been a hub of activity in Wailuku. On the bright side, it’s with great excitement that we look forward to the opening of the Wailuku Coffee Company and believe that it will continue the legacy of Marc Aurel in bringing the community together while showcasing the unique charm and ambiance of Wailuku Town. One thing’s for certain—due to its grand opening on June 4, it’ll be a First Friday event not to be missed.”
“As a unique gathering place in Wailuku Town, Café Marc Aurel has been a wonderful place that offered music and poetry readings in the warm ambiance of a café,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “Its promotion of the arts enriched historic Wailuku Town throughout the years and their endeavors have added to the vitality of the area. I look forward to the re-opening and wish the new proprietors great success.”