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Creating community starts in the kitchen

Student-run business Kaulike's Kitchen gains momentum at WWU

Kaulikes Kitchen’s Hurricane Katsu Plate. This can be purchased for $14 by DMing Kaulikes Kitchen on Instagram. // Photo courtesy of Sean Kaulike Martelles

Sean Kaulike Martelles, founder of Kaulike’s Kitchen and a second-year student at Western Washington University, is bringing the spirit of Aloha into his meals. After starting his Hawaiian-based food delivery business in April 2023, Martelles has cultivated a community around enjoying his food. 

After searching for a way to make money, Martelles’s mother recommended the idea of selling musubi, an easy-to-make Hawaiian dish made of spam, rice and seaweed.

Rooted in his Hawaiian heritage, Martelles spent his childhood making spam musubi alongside his family. However, his cultural exposure expands beyond Hawaiʻi, with influences coming from his mixed family representing Puerto Rican, Portuguese and Chinese cultures. Martelles was able to use his diverse cultural background to hone his own, unique take on dishes. 

“My food represents Hawaiʻi to the max. Hawaiʻi is very mixed. A lot of my food is all passed through my family traditions,” Martelles said. 

Kris Morris Mcangus, the owner of Taste of Aloha, a Hawaiian restaurant in Marysville, spoke on starting a business.

Before starting Taste of Aloha, Mcangus had her own catering business. However, after being offered a kitchen, she decided to start her Hawaiian restaurant inspired by her childhood in Oahu, Hawaiʻi.

“Aloha means love," Mcangus said. “It is a real range of different cultures and diversity that we bring to the table and into our food. It can range from Japanese to Filipino, Korean and so much more.”

The culture in Hawaiʻi is incredibly diverse, shaped by the migration of different cultures from the surrounding islands, making the food in Hawaiʻi a blend of all the cultures on its island. According to the statistics on the most common ethnic group in Hawaiʻi is Asian, with people from the Philippines, Japan and China. 

Creating a community surrounding the food is a huge part of Hawaiian culture, and her mission is to bring unity and love, Mcangus said. 

Naomi Nahmias, a second-year student at Western, is a frequent customer of Kaulikes Kitchen. After discovering the business and hearing the positive reviews on WWU Snapchat, she decided to give it a try.

“It looked really good and people were posting a lot of positive feedback. I was in the dorms, and it was convenient not to cook,” Nahmias said. 

Although Martelles launched Kaulikes Kitchen in April, he said that he started to gain momentum around Halloween. Amid this new popularity, Martelles began introducing new dishes into his menu, such as the chicken katsu and hurricane katsu plate.

As of now, Martelles runs this business by himself; however, he wants to see it grow. He said that he can feel overwhelmed due to many orders, but despite all of that, he is blessed to have the abundance. 

Martelles hopes to begin expansion with his menu, with plans to introduce a tofu plate soon so that everyone can enjoy his meals.

“There are a lot of people here who don’t eat meat, and I want my food to be eaten by everybody,” Martelles said.

Nahmias said she feels like eating food from Kaulike's Kitchen has become an experience for her and the people in her personal life, via sharing with her roommates and friends. 

She noted that Martelles always put an effort to reach out to her and make conversation when doing deliveries. 

“I mentioned I was sick once, and he checked up on me later to make sure I was okay. Whenever you pick up, he always asks how you are and what you’re doing. He’s just a nice guy,” Nahmias said.

By cooking with compassion, Martelles aims to create a community and an experience when people buy from him.

“I like seeing people enjoy my food and create that experience. If I can make someone happy, that is truly a blessing,” Martelles said. 

Martelle’s menu and food can be found on his Instagram, @KaulikesKitchen. Orders can be put in by DMing him and he will deliver during his delivery hours, which typically range from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Hannah Quinton

Hannah Quinton (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a third-year planning on going into journalism/public relations with a minor in international business. Outside of reporting, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading and yoga. She can be reached at

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