Enterprising Women SPring 2019

SPOTLIGHT E rica and Alexa met by chance on their mutual friend’s boat after living in the small town of Lahaina, Maui for more than five years. They had dozens of mutual friends, but had somehow never crossed paths. At the time, Alexa had recently started a small gourmet popsicle company called Maui Tropsicles and was wanting to expand to a full-fledged restaurant built around the same principles of sourcing local ingredients and being as close to zero waste as possible. Erica had just received her MBA and was managing a very popular bar & restaurant in town but wanted to work with healthier food, and was also appalled about the wastefulness that is the norm in most restaurants. Just as they had been independently working on a similar restaurant concept, they were both chatting on the boat with different people about their ideas before realizing the similarities and ultimately deciding to partner up and open Moku Roots. Moku Roots has the best tasting, most innovative vegan and vegetarian food imaginable with zero single-use containers. There’s an entire “handheld” menu of wraps, burritos, sandwiches, and sushi rolls, including their famous Taro burger, which they now wholesale to several other local restaurants as their veggie burger option. This portion of the menu was designed to be easily wrapped in locally grown ti leaves and tied with a banana husk for to-go food. They have branded tins that are available on a $10 deposit for other menu items including salads, vegan truffle mac and cheese, raw lasagna, or buffalo cauliflower bites and fully refundable upon return. “We knew most people would be stoked to take food to-go without ultimately sending some kind of container to the landfill, but we were nervous some people might feel inconvenienced. However, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Alexa. “People love the ti leaves, and they especially love our papaya stem straws” which are naturally hollow. Alexa Caskey and Erica Gale Moku Roots Hawaiian entrepreneurs combine innovative vegan and vegetarian food with zero single-use containers 62 enterprising Women