KAPA‘A — Are you a burrito head? Craving those late-night taco stands that crowd California neighborhoods? Ever wonder where you can eat past 11 p.m. on Kaua‘i?
A new restaurant in Kapa‘a has got you covered. Partners Brendan Lynch, Patrick Johnston and Jason Posey have replicated the type of Mexi-Cali establishment commonly found from Mission Beach in San Diego to The Mission District in San Francisco. Great food, great prices, and open from lunch ‘til midnight.
“After a long day’s work in construction,” said Lynch, when asked about the birth of the concept, “we were having trouble just finding a great, fast, inexpensive burrito and beer.”
Lynch was joined by Johnston and Posey who have relocated to Kaua‘i to help make the place a reality.
“We’ve known each other since high school,” said Lynch of Johnston. “We started talking about it in October, and we opened our doors May 2. We’re trying to fill the niche for this type of place.”
Bustling with business at 3 p.m., Lynch said that they’ve been most impressed with all their return customers. “We are seeing the same people in here everyday. That tells us we’re doing something right.”
Burrito Head serves tacos, flautas, nachos, quesadillas, and, of course, burritos — all for under $10.
“The fish tacos are a bit more, but the fish is locally caught, right out here,” Lynch gestures to the beach across the highway. “We’re close to getting almost everything from local vendors, but it’s a process that takes some time.”
The partners’ main desire in opening the establishment was to cater to working residents who need good-quality food — fast, and for reasonable prices. They encourage people to phone ahead and “we’ll have you out of here in three minutes,” said Lynch.
Lynch arrived on the island from California a year ago after working in the music business for 15 years. Now, he and his partners work full-time marinating, cooking and managing at Burrito Head.
“It’s hard work, but it’s worth it,” said Lynch.
Open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, Burrito Head definitely fills the niche for late-night hunger.
“We came up with the recipes by trying some different things and basically asking, what’s the best burrito I’ve ever had? Why?”
Johnston has had the most extensive experience in the food and beverage industry, with Lynch and Posey coming only with their determination and passion to make it work.
Burrito Head staffs two additional people: Johnston’s cousin Jackie Johnston and Greg Espirito. “He’s the all-around utility guy, he’s great,” said Lynch.
Opening a restaurant is hard on anyone, but the hours Burrito Head has chosen to serve make for a trial-by-fire.
“I’m exhausted. It’s a real commitment. We do everything here — the salsas, the beans, all the meat is marinated at least overnight. We have done everything with the highest quality we could source. There were things we probably could have skimped on without the customer knowing … but we would know.”
When Lynch decided to leave California he thought of returning to Costa Rica where he had studied in-depth for a master’s thesis he was writing.
“One thing about opening a business in a small community like (those in) Costa Rica or here, is figuring out a way to contribute, not detract or take away from other established businesses. I hope Burrito Head only adds to Kapa‘a. We wish everyone success,” he said.
“We hope people will discover us, and know there’s always a fresh and great place for food, at all hours of the day.”
When asked how the name for the business was chosen Lynch recalled telling “a friend of mine I had to get off the phone because of all the stuff I was working on, getting permits and plans, the lease and suppliers, recipes and ingredients and so I said, ‘I gotta go and put my burrito head on,’” and the name stuck.