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Campus & Community

Owners of Bananza and BYUH alumni say they owe the success of their frozen banana food truck to winning Great Ideas

A couple wearing baseball caps and beige T-shirts stands in the window of their frozen banana food truck in Haleiwa.

Tess Moncur said she and her husband Max, who are owners of Bananza and BYU–Hawaii alumni, believe winning the Great Ideas Competition in Fall Semester 2020 gave them the emotional boost they needed to endure the hardships of opening a small business during the pandemic.

Speaking on behalf of her husband, Tess Moncur said, “What he learned [at BYUH] from his professors and other students in the business program is what made Bananza possible.”

Opening during a pandemic

Bananza, a gourmet frozen banana food truck located in Haleiwa, opened in October of 2020, said Tess Moncur.

She shared the biggest challenge she and her husband faced is the pandemic. “There are so many elements that are out of your control being a business owner, and COVID-19 added so many more,” she explained.

BYUH alumna Debra Wijaya, described the location of Bananza, “being between bigger restaurants, so it serves as a quick dessert, which is smart!”

Finding a location for Bananza was a challenge as well because most food truck landlords were not accepting new renters, said Tess Moncur. She explained it was a blessing to find a spot in Haleiwa as she and her husband were living in Pupukea at the time. Most of their ward family and community members lived near the small business, said Tess Moncur. Because of the local support and customers, they survived the pandemic, she added.

 A close up of a frozen banana in a paper container and someone wearing clear-plastic gloves drizzling sauce over the top.

Rewarding sacrifices

Kate Staley, manager of Bananza and alumna of BYUH, said her favorite part about managing is the feeling of accomplishment. “Managing can be a lot of work, but I’ve grown and learned a lot from it. I am grateful for the experiences I get from doing it,” said Staley.

Tess Moncur said the biggest blessing of owning Bananza has been meeting people. She explained how labor-intensive it is to run a business. “Max [Moncur] and I were the only two employees for nine months,” she shared. She explained how energizing and rewarding it is to have people love their product. “The customers make it worth it,” she added.

Giving back 

When they first opened, Bananza held fundraisers for the community, Tess Moncur shared. “It was exciting to be able to own a business that was doing something positive for the community,” she said. “It is an amazing thing to support the community you love and have the community support you.”

At the time Bananza opened, Tess Moncur was a full-time student, student-teacher, and coach at Kahuku High School alongside her husband, Max Moncur. Between their communities at BYUH, Laie Elementary School, Kahuku High School, ward members and neighbors in Pupukea, Tess Moncur shared what a blessing it is to “have an impact and give back to the local community.”

She concluded, “Thank you, BYUH, for teaching, guiding, and supporting us throughout this crazy journey, especially in the beginning.”

To try the custom chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, visit the Bananza food truck in Haleiwa in the Courtyard by Rajanee Thai and Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. It is open from Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To learn more about the business, check out their Instagram page by clicking here.