Lahaina Merchants Association Reopens Public Kalua Pits

For the past 10 years you’ve counted on the Lahaina Merchants Association’s public roasting pits to provide a safe and convenient place to cook large meals for your friends and family. We understand that our kalua pits have become like a second kitchen for many of you, and you’ve come to trust the Association’s commitment to safeguarding this valuable public resource. This trust was tested recently, and we had to temporarily close down this important service. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. However, we are excited to announce that we have opened the pits to the public again, and have installed new safety measures and procedures to ensure your continued protection.

It is an accepted fact that cooking in a ground oven, or imu, produces some of the best tasting meat you can imagine. For thousands of years our ancestors have been using heated rocks and pit ovens to slow cook communal meals, and it has become a staple technique for traditional Hawaiian cooking. Unfortunately, like everything else, the fracture has made this style of food preparation dangerous.

Digging a properly sized pit can be a time consuming process, and can lead to a lack of vigilance, making you an easy target. Gathering enough heating stones, and carrying them back can slow you down if you need to leave an area in a hurry. While there is no doubt that the smell will attract neighbors from far and wide, it can also attract many unwanted guests like Nightmarchers or Menehune. Our public kalua pits removed these concerns and had a flawless track record until last week.

There have been lots of rumors circling around about the exact nature of the incident that forced us to halt operations. Some of these rumors have been quite outlandish, so please allow us to set the record straight and explain precisely what happened.

As I’m sure you are aware, we have always had an “if it has four legs you can roast it” policy. Meals can be hard to come by, and we understand that sometimes your options are limited. The flaw in this policy was highlighted with a perfect storm of mishaps. A recently restored traveler decided to cook a tainted wolf in one of the pits and failed to cover it properly. This would have been bad enough on its own, but the individual also didn’t fully understand the process, and used stones they had gathered themselves from a nearby stream. These stones shattered with enough force to spread radioactive wolf meat on everything and everyone in the area, forcing us to shutdown.

Thanks to our quick and decisive action, nobody was injured or became ill, but it did show us that we can do better. We have permanently filled in the pit in question and have scrubbed the area of all lingering radiation. The picnic area now falls well within safe levels for long-term exposure. We have hired more onsite help to make sure everyone stays safe and the new rules are being followed. In addition, outside materials can no longer be used in the pits. We will provide complimentary stones and burlap for anyone using the imus. For all the traditionalists, taro, banana, and ti leaves are available for a modest charge.

Regrettably we have had to put an end to our “four legs” policy. To help ensure the safety of others, we now allow only: pig, deer, fish, geese and mea-moa pods to be roasted in the area. However, we are offering a wide variety of spices and flavorings for purchase, to help you kick up the flavor a notch without the potential of contamination.

Finally, we have installed a food testing station to help alleviate any lingering fears you might have. This is a free service for any customer using our imus, and is available to the public in general for a nominal fee.

We apologize again for any difficulty this closure has caused and hope that we can win back your confidence. I believe these new safety guidelines and offerings will only make our service better. We thank you for your continued support and patronage. It’s a dangerous world out there but we’re doing our best to make it safer for you and your family. I can’t promise that you’ll never be covered in the half-raw exploded bits of a radioactive wolf in your life again, only that it won’t happen around our kalua pits.