Updated: Apr 13, 2018
It was June of 2017 when my wife Alison first suggested the idea of opening a shave ice stand. I was in between sessions at Student Leadership University 201 in Washington, DC with a group of students from our church. She and I had been tossing around ideas for our oldest son's and daughter's first jobs when she said, "Why don't we buy a trailer and let the kids sell shave ice?" ...And that's how it all started.
We knew nothing about shave ice, so there was plenty of work to be done. It didn't take long to learn that shave ice was extremely popular in Hawaii and that they did things a little differently there than on the mainland. We were determined to learn everything we could about authentic Hawaiian shave ice, so we could bring it to our hometown of Paragould, AR.
Get The Little Things Right
Parts of Hawaii see lots of precipitation. In fact, the windward slope of Haleakalā on Maui averages over 400 inches of rain per year! This contributes to the breathtaking waterfalls seen throughout the islands.
We wanted to capture the purity of this force of nature in our ice, which can't be done with water straight from the tap. All of our ice is created from the purest water possible, which has gone through a 5-stage, Reverse Osmosis-based filtration system. This removes virtually all contaminants from our ice, leaving only pure, clear, clean, great-tasting ice and nothing else!
From there, we use the best ice shavers in the industry. We studied several shave ice shops in Hawaii such as Matsumoto's near the north shore of O'ahu and Ululani's, which has several locations throughout Maui and the Big Island. We settled on a Japanese-style block shaver, which produces the finest shave--soft as snow.
When it comes to flavoring a shave ice, the syrups have to be perfect. For that reason, we decided to make all of our own syrup in house. We start with the same RO water we use to make our ice. After adding a dose of pure cane sugar, we bring it to a boil. Most shops we looked into don't take this extra step, primarily because of the inconvenience and extra time involved, but it's the little things that can really make the difference between "good" and "mind-blowing awesomeness"! Boiling the syrup provides an extra level of purification and works to actually sweeten the syrup by 20-25%! There's a reason shave ice from Ohana Hawaiian Snow tastes better than anything most people are used to.
Ohana Means Family
But there's more to Ohana than great-tasting shave ice. We knew early on that by doing things right, this was going to be wildly popular, and for that reason we wanted to surround ourselves with the best team members possible.
When a guest stops by our shave ice stand, we understand that we're providing an experience and not just a snow cone (yikes! bad word!). The tasty shave ice, friendly staff, fun Hawaiian themes, clean facilities... everything... it all works together to serve the customer. We're in the business of bringing happiness to people. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick fil-A once said, "We're not in the chicken business, but the people business." That's so true! It's about people--how we can make a difference in the lives of people. That is what matters most.
Ohana is a Hawaiian word for family, and we know we've done a good job when people we encounter naturally feel a part of ours.