For more than half of his life, Keone Silva has been taking orders. As a high school graduate, he entered the Air Force at 17, and worked his way up the ranks to the officer’s status of Major, working in logistics and later retraining as a graphic designer for the organization.
He always kept close ties to his Hawaiian heritage, reflecting along the path of his life about the important customs and spiritual underpinnings of the island state, which is deeply rooted in respect for elders, the land and a mindset of deep gratitude for the abundance of life.
Now Keone is taking orders of a different sort.
No longer outfitted in the classic navy uniform that he wore for decades, the retired officer and entrepreneur now wears a Hōkū Hawaiian Shave Ice shirt and hat, and watches intently from inside his custom treats truck as customers decide on flavor variations that include a selection of natural flavors, with no added sweeteners, and regular flavors, with added sweeteners.
Shave ice creations come in three sizes: Small (6 oz. for $3), Medium (8 oz. for $5) and Large (12 oz. for $7), in a rainbow of flavorful options which can be mixed or sold solo, including: Banana, Blue Coconut, Vanilla, Pink Lemonade and Watermelon, for example, in natural flavors; Blue Bubble Gum, Green Apple, Mango, Root bear and Green Apple, for example, in regular flavors. Toppings such as sweetened condensed milk, ice cream and gummies can be added for $1 more.
The Hōkū Hawaiian Shave Ice Truck—colorfully emblazoned with the logo Keone designed himself, coupled with vibrant, larger than life images of shave ice and fresh fruits, started testing flavors and combinations last year, pre-shutdown. The pandemic slowed Keone’s start up pace a bit, but now, as businesses begin to open back up and events start to be planned, he is again testing sites and looking for opportunities to share the childhood treat that he loved so much as a young boy growing up on the Big Island.
Recently, he was invited to park the truck at the Marine Bank and Trust in Suntree. As fate would have it, after transferring his business account to the bank, Keone learned that bank manager Charlie McCoach also grew up in Hawaii and even attended the same high school just a few years later. “When he realized this, he invited us out to park the truck and bought shave ice for everyone at the bank that first visit,” he said.
Keone is philosophical about this transition to business ownership, likening the journey to navigating the stars. Hōkū means “star” in Hawaiian, and when Keone and his wife, local attorney Jessica Silva, started thinking about post-retirement plans, they knew they wanted to run a family business with purpose, meaning and fun.
So, they settled on the idea of recreating a bit of the island culture on the Space Coast, and also adopted an “Aloha Friday mentality,” in the spirit of celebrating the end of the work week with family, friends and colleagues.
With the shave ice truck, everyday can be an Aloha Friday, a time to celebrate and honor our family, our friends and our good fortune, he said. “This is the time in our lives to slow down a bit, and enjoy family, life and special people,” he said.
Shawna Lucas (formerly Kelsch) has lived and worked in Brevard county for the past 20 years, serving in a variety of jobs and community service roles. She’s a former food and news reporter for Florida today, and was owner/operator of a marketing company that assisted clients and partners such as the Florida Healthcare Coalition, Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation for Florida, The Brevard Health Alliance, and Florida Tech to identify and solve pressing community health issues. She has she has dual bachelors degrees in Journalism and Sociology from the University of Miami, and was an inaugural fellow at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.