Is it a Hilo Thing?

Monday Musings from Melinda by LHS Contributor Melinda M.

Thinking about eating out in Hilo tonight? In the morning? For an afternoon snack?

Hilo families celebrate special occasions at Kenichi’s, owned by Terri and Mike “Kenichi” Inouye.

If so, you could go to Ken’s…or Kenichi’s…or Don’s. What about Blane’s, K’s or Jimmy’s? To the untrained ear, listening to these options could easily lead you to believe that you could go to anybody’s house in Hilo to eat!

It seems like everywhere I turn in Hilo, any choice I consider, there is someone’s place I can go to, no matter the cuisine: Sombat’s for Thai, Leung’s for Chinese, Miwa’s for Japanese, Lucy’s (or Reuben’s!) for Mexican.Is this a Hilo thing? A Hawaii thing? A small town thing? You tell me. Maybe it’s just that in a relatively small community like Hilo, everyone is family in some way or another so it makes perfect sense to name your dining establishment as though it’s your home, as though you are inviting us over.

And so, many of our restaurants flat out tell you who they belong to. Kandi’s drive-in, for example, is named for the owner’s daughter. And Blane’s for the founder himself.

Like many Hilo dining establishments, Don’s beckons you with its retro Pepsi sign.

Don’s is Don Hoota, of course, who has been serving Hilo families solid meals as though they are his family for 28 years.

Miyo Harumi has been inviting us over for “very homestyle Japanese cooking” since 1987.

And Miyo’s is Miyo Harumi who serves up Japanese food, family style.

Certainly there are many Hilo restaurants named less possessively, no better, no worse and in most cases, no “fancier” than those named for a family member. But it seems like the predominant choice of a name for a dining establishment in Hilo is your name + apostrophe ess!

Ok, writing this post has made me hungry. I think I’ll go to Freddy’s, or maybe Millie’s, nah, I know – I’ll go Verna’s cause if no can, no can. If can…Verna’s!


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