Shouting Sweet Nothings
Wednesday - March 28, 2007
Darin Yokoyama and Alan Takahata offer a variety of
sugar-free treats at Sweet Nothings
Most small-business owners know what it’s like to feel appreciated. Few get the kind of response given to Sweet Nothings owner Darin Yokoyama and his partners.
“We had a customer yesterday who told us that we made his life worth living again!” says Darin.
“And we have a lady who comes every Sunday, who told me that she’s waited 20 years for a business like ours to open,” adds partner Alan Takahata.
And not a day goes by without someone just uttering a simple thank you to the group that brought sugar-free pastries and desserts to Honolulu. For those who crave the experience of walking into a sugar-free store devoted to doughnuts and crammed full of cream pies, Sweet Nothings seems like a dream come true.
Nobody understands their joy better than Darin.
He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 10, and remembers a childhood devoid of sweet treats.
“In the ‘70s we didn’t even have diet soda,” he says. “I pretty much resigned myself to just taking in the smells of cakes and pastries at parties, and enjoying how they looked,” he says.
But a trip to Vegas changed all that.
“When I first walked into this store in Vegas and realized that everything was sugar-free, I just couldn’t believe it. It was like Disneyland for me,” he says, beaming at the memory.
The next step seemed obvious: Bring sugar-free pastries to the state with the highest percentage of diabetics in the nation. Darin approached a couple of friends (Patti Garrett and Craig Arakaki) and together they set about perfecting recipes using a blend of FDA-approved sweeteners. It helped that Alan already had an interest in baking. Sweet Nothings offers a selection of the kind of goodies you’d expect from a fully loaded bakery: éclairs, brownies, muffins, turnovers, cream puffs and bear claws, plus a selection of pies, cakes, chocolates and candies. The bakery also offers cakes for any occasion, and when I was there last week they were putting together platters of sugar-free cookies for take-out.
Since opening in October, the business is seeing new customers almost every day, with the client base now split about 50-50 between customers with diabetes and those without.
Because of the prevalence of diabetes in the Hawaii, says Darin, “We want to educate the public, try to help reduce those numbers, and also give diabetics an alternative and a chance to enjoy something sweet. But we also want to offer something to people looking for healthy choices too.”
For Alan, an ex-state government employee, part of the joy of each day now comes from baking, and from working with his friends.
“We all wanted to do something to make an impact in the community,” he says, “but the fact that you get to work together as friends, how good is that?
Almost as good as dipping into a box of sugar-free chocolate, I guess.
1218 Waimanu St.
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