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Wauwatosa's Hawaiian specialty store crowdfunds commercial kitchen

July 30, 2014

Guy Roeseler said he never exactly intended to make his Hawaiian specialty store into a restaurant, but it just kind of happened.

With an outdoor grill, staff at One Kine Grindz started making lunch plates for takeout and catering. Then, with people coming from out of town asking for somewhere to sit and eat, they added a few tables inside the century-old house at 7215 W. North Ave.

"When I got the place, it was just going to be a little store," Roeseler said. "Now we have seven people making a living here."

Eventually, city officials took notice. One Kine Grindz was only zoned to be a store and deli. Roeseler applied to the city to become a restaurant and was approved, but when he realized it would cost more than $100,000 to get up to code, he knew it wouldn't work.

Now Roeseler is planning to toss out the tables and expand the store's takeout and catering options. But to comply with kitchen codes for that, he needs around $35,000 he doesn't have. So, he's turning to his customers.

After five years of serving unique dishes as the only Hawaiian specialty store of its kind east of the Mississippi (as far he knows), Roeseler hopes his vast customer base will be willing to pitch in to allow him to continue business with a code-compliant kitchen.

"You go to the bank, and the store on paper doesn't make much money," Roesler said. "People have been really supportive and really kind, so we thought, let's just put it out there."

The store recently launched a GoFundMe page, where they are asking friends and fans to contribute to a new hood vent, stove, oven, indoor grill and fire suppression system. The page had raised more than $1,000 on Tuesday, July 29, from 13 backers in amounts ranging from $10 to $600.

"It always amazes me how generous people are," Roeseler said. "We're just very grateful."

Roeseler said he hopes to have the new kitchen ready by the end of October.

Customers of One Kine Grindz include people from throughout the Midwest who moved from Hawaii, some who have memories of Hawaii from weddings or vacations and others who just want to try something new.

"It's really fun food, and people here are really adventurous," Roeseler said.

Roeseler himself lived in Hawaii for 12 years before moving back near his hometown of Brookfield. He said he gets nostalgic when February hits, but he is happy he traded it for a job he loves, surrounded by paintings, products and people from his old paradise.

"I know more people from Hawaii now then I did when I lived there," he laughed.

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