Sweet Nothings To Whisper About
Sweet Nothings partners (from left) Alan Takahata, Craig
Arakaki, Patti Garrett and Darin Yokoyama
Sugar-free sweets sounds like an oxymoron. But to Darin Yokoyama it is a need that wasn’t fulfilled - for his fellow diabetics - until he opened his Sweet Nothings sugar-free baked-goods shop with his three partners.
The shelves are stocked with pies, cakes, pastries, muffins, cookies, chocolates and hard candies.
“One of the most popular items is the Napoleon,” says Yokoyama. “It’s a puffed pastry with Bavarian cream topped with chocolate.”
Other favorites include Bavarian cream-filled creme puffs and chocolate-filled creme puffs. The top two favorite cakes are the chocolate lover’s cake with chocolate filling and chocolate icing, and the peach Bavarian cake. Yokoyama says the cakes have a light, refreshing taste.
Hopes for the future include getting the baked items out via delivery trucks or maybe even a kiosk.
Yokoyama, who has Type 1 juvenile diabetes, used to go to a sugar-free shop when he lived in Las Vegas. At Sweet Nothings, instead of sugar, he uses commercially available sweeteners.
He won’t divulge any tricks of his trade, but he did reveal one tale where a customer didn’t realize there wasn’t any sugar. A customer shared that her family loved a cake and some pastries she bought from Sweet Nothings the day before. When Yokoyama told her he was glad she was able to enjoy the shop’s sugar-free items, there was a second of thunderous silence, when she said she had no idea it was sugarless.
“The taste is what impressed her,“Yokoyama says. “She was just blown away and she’s now a regular.”
Pleasing people has been the easy part of the business, but two challenges in setting it up were the slow permitting process and the limited availability of affordable rental space, Yokoyama notes.
Yokoyama, a Punahou grad and Pauoa resident, works at the shop full time. He also owns Laser Barcode Solutions which has branches in Honolulu and Las Vegas. The University of Washington graduate serves as the vice president of marketing for Sweet Nothings.
“We all know how to do everything, so in case someone isn’t here, we can cover for each other,” adds Yokoyama about his business partners from diverse backgrounds. “We all get our hands into all aspects of the business.”
Alan Takahata also works at the shop full-time as president. Takahata, a former state employee and Kaiser grad, met Yokoyama as they grew up in Hawaii Kai together. Craig Arakaki maintains his full-time job as an air traffic controller, and when he has time, he comes into the shop. Arakaki, a Kaiser grad, serves as the vice president of finance. Patti Garrett, an Iolani grad who met Yokoyama when they attended the University of Washington, holds on to her main job as attorney while she helps out at the store as the vice president of operations. All the partners acknowledge the support of their families in this sweet adventure.
“We want to do something good for the diabetic and health-conscious community,” notes Yokoyama.
Sweet Nothings is located at 1218 Waimanu St., Suite 102. The shop is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 593-1234.
CORRECTION: 590-2100 is the number for Fire Truck Hawaii featured in the Oct. 4 Entrepreneurs column.
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