Sweet Success: Mālama Loan Recipient 808Cheesecake

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What started as an oversupply of lilikoʻi became kitchen magic. Initially experimenting with everything from milkshakes to pound cake, Robinson Reyes, Jr. and wife, Lori, eventually created a recipe for a lilikoʻi mousse cheesecake that would launch a business: 808Cheesecake.

Photo: Robinson and Lori Reyes
Robinson Reyes, Jr. and his wife, Lori. – Photo: Courtesy

“I knew it was good when my husband, who doesn’t really like cheesecake, nearly fell off his chair when he tasted it,” laughed Lori. “Then I took some to work and my coworkers loved it so much they asked for more and some of them wanted to buy it.”

The Reyes, began to experiment with other flavors ranging from Kona Coffee and Latte, to Key Lime and even Ahi Poke. In 2013 they entered their Kona Coffee cheesecake in the Kona Coffee Dessert Competition and won the People’s Choice silver medal and the Chef’s Choice bronze medal. They went on to win more awards, and as they did, demand for their cheesecake grew.

In mid-2015, they took a leap of faith and started their own cheesecake business. They sold their cheesecake at farmers’ markets and special events. They also dabbled in wholesale, catering, and even supplied a few restaurants.

“We needed financial support when we first started but had a hard time obtaining financing,” explained Robinson. “OHA Mālama Loans believed in us, gave us a chance, and have been with us on our journey. They have been our cheerleaders and supporters along the way.”

“It’s scary to take that first step and quit a stable full-time job to pursue your passion, but we are glad we did,” said Lori. “OHA’s Mālama Loans staff provided the support we needed.”

“With financial support from OHA, we were able to buy the kitchen equipment we needed to meet demand for our products on Hawaiʻi Island and grow our business,” added Robinson.

In addition to their kitchen location at Kona Joe’s Coffee Farm, they have also opened a second location near Chicago where their daughter, who studied culinary arts, is both the manager and baker, and a third location in Wisconsin.

“We are delighted to share a little taste of home around the country!” says Lori. “We enjoy watching our customers’ faces. Our passion drives us to continue growing and creating!”