Updated: October 9, 2022
Monkeypod Kitchen is the recipient of the Nō Ka ʻOi Highway Hui Award from the State of Hawaiʻi, Department of Transportation Highways Division – Maui District, in recognition of the business’ multiyear and multi-segment volunteerism for the Adopt-A-Highway program.
The popular restaurant founded by renowned Chef Peter Merriman has two locations on the island – in Wailea and Kāʻanapali – as well as two Adopt-A-Highway segments: between mile markers 3.5 to 5.5 along Piʻilani Highway, and from mile markers 16 to 18 along Honoapiʻilani Highway.
Tori Hudson, general manager of the Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea, said their volunteerism for the Adopt-A-Highway program stems from one of their restaurant’s seven brand values: Leave the world a better place.
“Our operations are concentrated on making sure we are being socially conscious with the island,” she said. “We want to make sure we are not creating a negative impact as a restaurant, and ensure that we are giving back to the community and doing our part to help keep it clean.”
According to Ty Fukuroku, program manager of Maui District’s Environmental Management, Monkeypod Kitchen’s Wailea restaurant has participated in the Adopt-A-Highway program since at least 2013. The restaurant adopted its second segment in 2018 after opening its Kāʻanapali location.
“Monkeypod Kitchen is a great community partner,” Fukuroku said. “They’ve been very consistent in organizing at least four cleanups annually, typically involving 20 volunteers who remove 20 to 30 bags of trash each time, and sending in their cleanup data, which helps with overall program management. We’re very appreciative of their contributions to the program and to Maui’s environment.”
Adopt-A-Highway groups receive support from the Maui District in the form of cleanup supplies, safety training and the group’s name printed on a highway sign. Hudson said another one of the Monkeypod Kitchen’s mottos – Lucky Live Hawaiʻi – also factors into their community service.
“Our cleanups are a great way for us to get together outside of the regular work hustle and connect with each other. We usually have little beach gatherings after our cleanup events which are really fun, and even though our name is on the highway sign, it’s nice for our employees to be recognized for our hard work so people can see the good that we are doing. It brings a sense of pride for our employees.”
Adopt-A-Highway cleanups are conducted by volunteer groups that commit to adopting a two-mile portion of a state highway for a minimum of two years, pick up litter on their section of the highway at least four times per year, and undergo safety training before each cleanup event.
Trash and other pollutants discarded along roadways often wash into storm drains and end up miles away in the ocean where they can harm the environment. Adopt-A-Highway is one of several programs managed by Maui District to help reduce pollution and ensure only rainwater enters the storm drain system.
Organizations in Maui County interested in signing up for Adopt-A-Highway can search for available highway segments at Maui District’s stormwater website, www.stormwatermaui.com. Applications, cleanup forms, a safety training video, and program information are also available on the website.