Feeling Their Oats At Latitude 22
Ruth Arakaki with a variety
of Latitude 22 Akamai Oat
Sharon Kobayashi and Ruth Arakaki hope to someday have a place of their own to make their oatcakes, biscotti, fruit crisps and chutney. Their three-year-old company, Latitude 22, recently hired a delivery service to help with distribution to their newest client, 7-Eleven stores.
“People like to share with me what they do with the oatcakes,” says Kobayashi about what her company calls Akamai Oat Cakes. “I’m glad to hear that.”
You also can find the oatcakes and other products at Down to Earth Natural Foods and Deli, Star Market, Times Supermarkets, Diamondhead Market, Kale’s, Seattle’s Best Coffee, and KTA on the Big Island, as well as the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Saturday.
The farmer’s market is where it all started. Kobayashi once had a restaurant - named Latitude 22. (She called it that because that is the latitude of Honolulu and she felt Hawaii represents the ideal place for healthy eating.)
So when the restaurant didn’t work out, her sister suggested she should make some oatcakes since she didn’t like any of the oatcakes that were already on the market.
“I started playing with the recipes, and my mom gave them in ziplock bags to her friends,” remembers Kobayashi. “When Joan Namkoong started the farmer’s market, we decided, ‘why not start there?’”
The business partners made what they thought was a lot - 77 bags. Within 10 minutes at the market, they were sold out.
These days because some customers prefer making their own oatcakes, they came up with dry mixes that just need a bit of water and some oil.
Now both Kobayashi, Waipahu High School graduate and a Kaimuki resident, and Arakaki, a Kalani grad and Manoa resident, work full time with Latitude 22, and have three employees.
Future plans for the company include trying to market the mixes more aggressively and to get their products to the Mainland.
Another plan in the early stages is to have a wine bar with food that Kobayashi calls “global healthy fusion” served on smaller plates.
“There’s also talk about a restaurant that might happen within the year,” explains Kobayashi.
One of their challenges is the price of real estate, notes Kobayashi.
“Land everywhere is at a premium,” she adds.
“We are still working out of the incubator at the Pacific Gateway Center. Sometimes we are running four kitchens at once. We’d love to have our own place.”
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