May 5th, 2011 / posted by paularath

Kawehi Haug and Nick Gervais, partners in Let Them Eat Cupcakes

This is the next story in my series on what former Advertiser colleagues are up to now. It’s been eleven months since the final issue of The Advertiser hit newsstands so unemployment has run out for most and they are finding new ways to make a living.

Kawehi Haug worked for TGIF as an entertainment and food writer. Nick Gervais designed TGIF and, lucky for me, U magazine, the magazine for which I was Creative Director and Chief Writer.

Now they are co-owners of Let Them Eat Cupcakes, a charming cupcake specialty shop in Chinatown. While the transition  from TGIF to cupcakes might seem like a stretch, it actually makes a lot of sense.

Even while still with The Advertiser, Kawehi wanted to open a cupcake business. She experimented with the batter and frosting and tested it on friends and newsroom colleagues. She even talked about starting a serious cupcake business but was just too busy with her day job. Nick has experience in kitchens, having been a sous chef. He has a sophisticated palate and still loves cooking – and being in a kitchen.

The shop offers a rotating menu of cupcakes, with six flavors a day.

Here's the menu, for your planning purposes.

Kawehi and Nick both have outgoing personalities and a keen interest in people. They also have wonderful senses of humor which goes with the cupcake territory.

They began test baking nine months ago in Nick’s home kitchen. Once they decided to get serious they worked out of a commercial kitchen and sold cupcakes at Eat the Street, as well as setting up a table on Chaplain Lane during First Fridays. No matter how many cupcakes they made for these events, they always sold out.

Both partners decided it was time to get serious and set up shop, opening a cupcake emporium in Chinatown. The location where Mix used to be on Beretania Street proved the perfect location, at the right price. They called on family and friends to help. Nick’s wife Anne is an interior designer so she immersed herself int eh project, creating the visual concept, colors and fun little details that give the shop,a nd even the restroom, so much character.

Anne Gervais let her imagination run wild in the restroom. Even the tissue rolls match the pink theme.

Nick, who is environmentally savvy, used recycled wood for the big table and a recycled frame for the weekly cupcake menu board. The partners bought second hand equipment when possible, but the mixers and convection oven, critical elements for the business, are new.

Recycled wood was used for the communal table.

Friends offered a hand with painting, glasswork, carpentry and mechanical tasks. It was an ohana kind of project.

A lot of research went into getting everything right at Let Them Eat Cupcakes. Nick said it took more than four months, for example, to find the ideal boxes that have little pukas for each cupcake. It also took months of tasting and testing to find high quality guava and liliquoi curds for their fruit flavored cupcakes.

During these first few days, complimentary coffee is served. An espresso machine is under consideration.

When I visited them at 2 p.m. today, their third day in the shop, they were just selling out of cupcakes. On Monday they sold out by 1 p.m. Yesterday they sold out at 2 p.m. “It has exceeded all expectations,” Nick said with wide eyes and a look of wonderment. “Our sales have been out of sight and we’ve surpassed our goals.”

The only problem now is how to make more cupcakes. “We’re slammed,” Nick said with a smile and a shrug as Kawehi busily served customers and then started to reluctantly turn them away because the cupboard was bare. “We can’t make any more. We need to find someone to help.” How many brand new businesses can say that?

Let Them Eat Cupcakes is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Sunday. For more information, phone: 286-6185. E-mail:

– Paula Rath

What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
Jerry Mayfield
May 5th, 2011 at 5:34 am

great intro for a new business venture!


May 5th, 2011 at 5:40 am

Lovely idea, lovely shop and very lovely bathroom!

Michelle Douglas
May 5th, 2011 at 5:45 am

Thanks Paula, I will be down to China Town for the cupcakes!

May 5th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Just FYI, my fave is the carrot…but I haven’t tried them ALL yet….

May 7th, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I really, REALLY enjoyed the boxes you had on Wednesday night! I will have to visit them sooner than later.

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