Looking to support victims of the Maui fires? Start with these L.A. restaurants

A chef cooks outside in an alley at night
Following the devastating fire in Lahaina on the island of Maui, Anajak Thai and other L.A. restaurants are offering special menu items and dinners to raise funds for those impacted.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles restaurant owners are allocating percentages of their profits, hosting fundraisers and raising awareness for the Maui communities grappling with the tragedy of the recent fires. Hundreds of structures, homes and businesses were reduced to ash in what has become the century’s deadliest wildfire.

With the death toll of the Maui wildfires at 106, with 1,300 more people unaccounted for, Hawaiians and Angelenos alike are mourning the devastation of the historic town of Lahaina. These L.A. restaurants are doing what they can to rally support behind various relief funds.

Roving tea truck and retailer Flowerhead Tea — soon to launch a shop in Highland Park — is raising funds for Maui now through Sept. 1. The tisane-based Hawaiian Haze iced tea blend is a favorite of owners Karina Vlastnik and Kendall Brinkley, and is made with dehydrated hibiscus, lemongrass and ginger in ode to Hawaii. They’re donating all proceeds from this loose-leaf blend’s sale throughout the month, raising funds for nonprofit ʻĀina Momona. When ordered online, customers can also enter the code “WELOVEMAUI” for free shipping on orders over $40.


In Manhattan Beach, the Strand House is hosting a Maui fire relief benefit concert on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. at its first floor, StrandBar. The 21-and-over event will feature live performances from local musicians like Al Kim, Joie Shettler and Jim Wheeler, along with the restaurant’s full food, beverage and cocktails menu. Tickets are available for $100, and 100% of ticket, food and drink sales will be donated to those who have lost homes and businesses to the Maui fires through the Hawaii Community Foundation, as well as to animals displaced and injured in a partnership with the Maui Humane Society.

At Culver City’s Citizen Public Market, Bar Bohemien has partnered with Campari for a tiki-themed night on Aug. 22 from 3 p.m. to midnight including specialty cocktails, giveaways, bites and a live DJ, with tropical attire encouraged. One dollar from every specialty drink will go towards the Maui Humane Society.

This week, Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra is offering a loco moco brunch special, as well as kanpachi ginger scallion poke inspired by Off the Hook Poke Market’s ahi ginger scallion poke in Honolulu. The poke features dry-aged kanpachi from chef Liwei Liao’s Joint fish market in Sherman Oaks and is available for dinner, with limited supplies. Yang’s Kitchen will donate a portion of the profits from the kanpachi poke, as well the loco moco dish to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund.

At East Hollywood bakery Friends & Family, Roxana Jullapat is raising funds all week long through her tropical “pineapple suns” pastry, which braids square croissant dough into vessels for fresh, roasted pineapple at the center. The proceeds of the pastries, which run $5.50 apiece, will be donated to the Maui Food Bank, which is collecting and distributing food, toiletries and other essentials in Central and South Maui.

In Sherman Oaks last Tuesday, The Times’ 2022 Restaurant of the Year Anajak Thai added Tamashiro-style and shoyu pokes and mochiko fried chicken to the Thai Taco Tuesday menu, with plans to donate a portion of the profits from those menu items to various Maui relief funds.

Upon hearing that his chef friend Sheldon Simeon, owner of Tiffany’s and Tin Roof in Maui, was on the island cooking on behalf of the World Central Kitchen for families who have lost their homes and livelihoods there, Justin Pichetrungsi decided that he too could take action. Soon after, Pichetrungsi posted a video on Monday to the Anajak Thai Instagram account announcing the “emergency TTT,” or Thai Taco Tuesday, to its followers. He also shared a link to the Chef Hui Maui Relief Fund, seeking to feed the displaced people of Maui and support damaged restaurants.


After fires destroyed most of the town of Lahaina on West Maui, diners gathered at the Carson restaurant Back Home in Lahaina to grieve, celebrate and build community over music and plates of Hawaiian food

Aug. 16, 2023

After reaching out to friends and family living in Hawaii for help finding verified funds, Pichetrungsi is so far considering the Maui Strong Fund through the Hawaii Community Foundation, Maui United Way, or the Kāko’o Maui Fund. He also came across a comprehensive spreadsheet for people to send aid directly to impacted families in Maui.

In Orange County, a group of Maui-raised volunteers spent this week navigating the challenges of donation logistics.

Aug. 18, 2023

ZEF BBQ, a weekend-only Simi Valley pop-up, was born out of pandemic necessity when owner-chef Logan Sandoval and his wife, Ana Lindsay, were struggling to generate income for their family.

“I know what it is to struggle and try to make ends meet, [but] that’s with a full functioning business still,” said Sandoval. “I can’t imagine losing my home and my business in one night.”

In the past, Sandoval’s menus have featured Hawaiian staples like pit-smoked house-made Spam musubi and Peking duck, and now the pair seeks to support other struggling business owners and community organizations affected by the Maui fires.

“Every weekend we have a walk-up-only service called Super Secret Sundays,” said Sandoval. “This is mine and my staff’s favorite day because we all come together and brainstorm menu items that we’ve been wanting to test out or just make better.” This past Sunday, ZEF BBQ dedicated the cherished day to Maui relief efforts by donating a large portion of sales, including 100% of Dole Whip sales, to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

According the Sandoval, his team celebrated the event as a major success. Their line is usually between 10 to 20 people he said, but at one point on Sunday, they had at least 80 to 90 people in line.

Spiritual care teams, as well as counselors and other mental health specialists, are setting up around the island, officials said.

Aug. 17, 2023

Verdugo Bar in Glassell Park posted on its Instagram asking any followers with the funds to donate to the Go Fund Me linked in its bio to help the staff at Lahaina’s Dirty Monkey restaurant. The Maui restaurant is listed as permanently closed on Google, and is calling for any help it can get to raise money for staff members trying to rebuild their homes and get back on their feet.


Hermosa Beach’s RYLA plans to donate proceeds from its Tiki Thursday event to the Kokua Restaurant Hospitality Fund, which focuses efforts on providing immediate relief to the restaurant, bar and hospitality workers affected by the recent fires. Chef Ray Hayashi feels personally connected to the tragedy as he and close friend chef David LeFevre traveled every year to the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival where Hayashi also got engaged to RYLA chef de cuisine Cynthia Hetlinger. RYLA’s sister restaurant MB Post, owned by LeFevre, also plans to donate a portion of profits earned at this Friday’s lunch service to the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund.

At Lunetta in Santa Monica, chef Raphael Lunetta also is directing support to the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund. He hosted a coursed benefit dinner alongside chef Josiah Citrin of Santa Monica’s Mélisse and chef Suzanne Tracht of West Hollywood’s Jar called Flavors of Aloha: Supporting Hawaii’s Restaurant Community. The team of chefs rallied the support of their collective fan bases and plan to pool funds from the fundraiser.

Officials long knew of the risk of a major blaze, but a review of records and interviews shows there was not a fire evacuation plan for Lahaina.

Aug. 18, 2023

Citrin and Lunetta’s connection to Hawaii traces back to their youth riding waves at the break wall. Ever since, Lunetta has formed relationships with esteemed Hawaiian culinary figures like Roy Yamaguchi, Allen Wong and Michele and Wade Ueoka, staying tethered to the Hawaiian food scene by annually attending the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

“My heart is intertwined with Hawaii, and its restaurant community holds a special place within me,” said Lunetta. “This benefit dinner epitomizes our collective celebration of Hawaiian cuisine and serves as an opportunity to give back to the community that has enriched our lives.”

Danielle Dorsey contributed to this report.


11:09 a.m. Aug. 18, 2023: Additional fundraisers have been added to this story since it was first published, including those being organized by Friends & Family bakery, Flowerhead Tea and the Strand House.