Why I Will Never Eat at Wake Up Cafe in Hanalei on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii

WP_20131230_10_13_36_ProWe spent the first two nights on Kauai as part of Starwood’s Holiday Challenge (here’s my story). We had a fantastic time except the part where we wasted 40 minutes of our lives at the Wake Up Café—the hostess was so rude we walked out and she compelled me to write a negative review of the place on TripAdvisorYelp and below.

Let me start by saying that I really debated writing this review. I don’t normally do this. But the hostess at Wake Up Cafe in Hanalei was one of the rudest people I have ever encountered in my travels. Initially, I figured I would cut her some slack, in case she was having a bad day. Maybe her boyfriend had broken up with her, or there was a death in the family or maybe even a sick child at home … I thought a lot about the reasons that could have made her so unfriendly, rude and inhospitable. But after seeing the other negative reviews here, presumably about her and another “heavier & older” owner that were posted weeks and months ago, I realized I wasn’t alone in this experience.

This woman wasted forty minutes of my life. At first, she seemed pleasant. When we arrived, I popped my head in the door to see if there was a signup sheet since there was a bit of a line. She informed us that there was no signup sheet and to just wait with the others (about 15 others) and she would seat us.

She said we would be seated in 10 minutes as they were quick which was a flat out lie. Thirty minutes went by and the group in front of us asked what was going on. She snapped at the older gentleman and said, “Hey, we want happy customers and if you aren’t happy, you can go somewhere else.” That got my attention and I debated, just like that poor family, whether to leave then. The wife/mother wanted to leave but the others were hungry so they decided to wait since they were next in line.

In the meantime, the line is completely disorganized. There were about 15 to 20 people out there so the hostess has no clue who should be next. We watched as a couple with a child brazenly jumped the line and grabbed a table ahead of two or three other families who had been waiting a long time.

A few minutes later we were finally seated and just before we sat down, I mentioned that a family of three had cut the line and helped themselves to an empty table. I thought she would be happy to know but instead she said rudely and aggressively, “I don’t care about that. If you don’t like it, you can eat somewhere else.”

There was no way I was going to support this place with my hard earned cash and I certainly wasn’t going to endure this waitress with a bad attitude. We ended up walking out just as she brought us coffee that we didn’t even order.

I’m pretty certain she’s not local and if I were a part of this community, I would boycott Wake Up Cafe. If you’re a tourist traveling through the area, spend your dollars in a more deserving place. Unfortunately, this woman completely ruined our experience there…there is nothing Aloha about her.

Comments

  1. Had I been there I would have gone to the front of the line and announced to all that we must leave and I shall lead everyone to a restaurant that would not offend its customers. Bet I’d get a crowd to follow

  2. We’re local and consider it a good place for breakfast without cocktails. We took a group of six there Christmas week and were seated immediately, but we knew to go early. We tend not to want to wait whenever there’s a line in town; consequently we avoid certain places altogether and have trusty backups when our favorites are full.

    You’re right, this woman (who from your description sounds like the owner/mgr) could have said, “I’m sorry,” and it’s possible she was having a bad day or even a bad life. Rude is magnified when one’s experience heretofore has been delightful.

    However: The last weeks of 2013 were the busiest ever in Hanalei; lots of visitors in town itself and all along the highway down from Princeville to Ke’e. We totally get the high expectations visitors have, particularly considering the exorbitant price of accommodations. Many of these same visitors can’t seem to properly park their rented minivans and SUVs, ignore or are unaware of one-lane bridge etiquette, have toddler-worthy meltdowns at the post office or the bank, imperil bicyclists and crosswalk pedestrians because they’re distracted or rubbernecking, stiff servicepeople with the bill, disregard safety regs at the beaches, walk right into traffic to get a photo, etc. Rare is the day that one’s aloha isn’t tested.

    We love it here, and we love sharing this gorgeous place with visitors. When our little town is stretched over capacity, and even though most of us take our aloha very seriously, there can be limits to our patience, too. Hopefully you made up for your lost 40 minutes with some beautiful scenery or another pleasant experience. Aloha!

    • Johnny Jet Johnny Jet says:

      Thanks for the comment. I know what you mean about the influx of visitors and testing the patience of locals. But I decided to post it when I read a bunch of other comments on Yelp and TripAdvisor that complained about her throughout the year. She just wasn’t having a bad day.

      • Anonymous says:

        Most restaurants have variable seating, i.e. tables for 2, 4, or 6 and put tables together for larger groups. They take your name and how many in your party. For the most part they will seat in order if they can. Larger parties sometimes have to wait a bit longer until tables empty and can be put together to accommodate everyone in a larger party. Line jumpers should never be tolerated. If the hostess doesn’t say something, people in line should not be afraid to speak up. If no one calls the line jumper out, they will just keep doing it.
        Your comments on this restaurant are welcomed. If I ever go there, I will avoid it like the plague.

  3. I love the review! I too will Never eat at the Wake Up Café. I’ll spend my dollars where they are pleasant :) or at least try to be under chaotic circumstances…

  4. Had the same problem in October. Very disorganized and chaotic. We left and had a wonderful experience and dinner down the street even though if we had to wait for 20 minutes to be seated.

  5. Thanks for this review. I’ve worked in service industries and had bad days and times of grief. I was never rude to a customer, even when they were nasty. A person has to be a pretty miserable sort to behave so rudely to people. Finding a new line of work would probably make them (and everyone else) much happier. Either way I’m glad to know where not to spend the money I’ve been saving forever when I’m in Hanalei next year.

    BTW, I really enjoyed your tweets from Hawaii, and I appreciate all of your great travel advice.

  6. If they don’t care about the customers, they probably don’t care about the food they serve as well. I think you made the right choice, you’re not missing anything.

  7. That’s a shame.

    We stayed in Princeville for Christmas 2013. The St.Regis referred us to Wake-Up Cafe and we proceeded to eat there each of our 5 mornings on the North Shore. The area was not as crowded from December 20-25, so we did not have any waits at Wake-Up. So, I can’t speak to that.

    But IMO, they were very friendly for a breakfast-only dive. They gave us dinner recommendations that worked out nicely and made sure we had the best possible table to view any active waterfall.

    And the food was great…breakfast quesadillas….cinnamon rolls….

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