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February 5, 2016: As Written by Erika Engle

Thirty-year coffee industry veteran Raymond Suiter is getting back into the retail food-and-beverage business with a cafe in the new International Market Place.

Opening Aug. 25, Kona Coffee Purveyors’ flagship cafe will be “a showcase” for “the high mark of excellence” of the coffee and its packaging, and will feature pastries made in-house by San Francisco’s renowned b. Patisserie, Suiter said.

A coffee shop by day, Kona Coffee Purveyors in the evenings will offer imported and domestic charcuterie and wines, he said.

“Kona Coffee Purveyors really is a culmination of my 30 years in the coffee business,” said Suiter. “Every part of the coffee process has become very important to me.”

He is involved in the process from the farm to the cup “to make sure the coffee reaches the level of quality we want to provide.”

His wife, Jackie Suiter, earned certifications for her palate from the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the Coffee Quality Institute and the Court of Master Sommeliers. “She is a sommelier for coffee,” he said.

After meeting b. Patisserie partners Belinda Leong and Michel Suas at a local restaurant event and getting to know them, “I … understood (their) level and passion for excellence is really along the same lines that I feel in my business,” Suiter said.

Leong said she is excited to expand the patisserie beyond San Francisco to Waikiki and the redeveloped International Market Place. “The location is beautiful,” she said.

Suas described getting to know the Suiters as business partners as akin to dating before marriage, to learn whether their business visions and concepts were aligned.

“Both parties, we have one thing in common,” he said. “We like to serve the best food we can, or the best coffee, with great service.”

The layout of the cafe and bakery will allow customers to see b. Patisserie’s kouign-amann (“queen-ah-MAHN”) and other signature items being created.

Kouign-amann, a pastry with Celtic roots that originated in Brittany in northwestern France, is crisp on the outside and layered like puff pastry or croissant dough, Suas explained. The Wikipedia page on the topic features a photo of a b. Patisserie kouign-amann.

“They have a huge Hawaii following,” Jackie Suiter said of b. Patisserie, adding that many locals visit the bakery while visiting the Bay Area. “This will be their first location outside San Francisco.”

About 10 to 12 signature b. patisserie items will be served in Waikiki under the guidance of sous-chef Susannah Schoolman, who will move to Hawaii for the operation, Leong said.

To entice customers who want more than pastries and coffee, “we’re going to have a wine bar at night,” Raymond Suiter said.

“A restaurant commitment in Waikiki is a fairly steep commitment,” he added. Many upscale destination restaurants will be opening at the new International Market Place, including STRIPSTEAK by Michael Mina, Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi, and others.

“We’re not looking to be a dinner spot,” Raymond Suiter said. Rather, customers who want a more casual experience will find a selection of wines “from smaller wineries,” perhaps three or four choices each of red or white wines, along with prosciutto from Italy and other specialty meats from Europe and the U.S., he said.

He wanted the new cafe to reflect modern Hawaii with clean lines, to be in stark contrast to the usual cluttered look of a typical coffee shop, he said. He hired Pennsylvania-based Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which “designed all the Apple stores all over the world,” he said.

If Raymond Suiter’s name is familiar, it could be because it once was synonymous with Honolulu Coffee Co.

He sold the company in 2008, but “I never got out of the roasting business,” he said.

He was in the retail business with Honolulu Coffee for 18 years, but once out of it he started “enjoying the distribution side,” he said.

His roastery in the Sand Island area houses three roasters and a cupping room certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, he said.