Kalaheo restaurant ‘gives back’ to community

KALAHEO — Kalaheo Steak and Ribs recruited some help and served up about 450 Thanksgiving meals on Monday.

“This is the second year we’re doing this,” said Caroline Frederiksen, who works at the restaurant. “Ernie Kanekoa wanted to do something different, and after we asked around, many people said they wanted Thanksgiving.”

That gave birth to the first Thanksgiving in June event last year, coinciding with the eatery’s first anniversary.

With the help of several community businesses, the staff rolled up their sleeves Monday and went to work serving guests from Friendship House, Nana’s House in Waimea, and this year, for the first time, the Boys and Girls Club’s Waimea Clubhouse.

“Most of us who worked the event last year are back again,” Bart Kort said in an email. “Personally, I could not wait to do this and will continue to do this. There are no words to describe the emotions of the whole day.”

Frederiksen said in addition to the main dining room set up to accommodate all of the guests, the downstairs was fixed up to handle children. Nose the Clown got help from Kahi and Makani Brun who turned out to volunteer with the children’s activities.

Balloons floated above the area with a face painting station eagerly awaiting the young guests, and in one corner, a box of goodie bags was set aside for all the children.

Frederiksen said the guest list included about 350 people from Nana’s House, about 50 from Friendship House and at least 20 from the Boys and Girls Club’s Waimea Clubhouse. She said the restaurant was also ready to accommodate walk-ins.

“In these financially pressed times, it is such a treat for these families to go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy a meal with their families,” said Momi Machado, Nana’s House manager, Child and Family Service.

Chef Rufino Ramos, the KSR chef, got help from Chef Michael Stauber of Joe’s on the Green, Chef Lawrence Eells of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa and Sandy Poehnelt of The Right Slice in preparing the food for the masses.

“Today, we’re having Pumpkin Crunch for dessert,” Poehnelt said, emerging from “Da Hole” with a tray, sliced and ready for serving. “After this, I still have to do the Monday Market at the Kukui Grove Center.”

More help came from Love’s Bakery, Hopaco, the Transportation Security Administration and the friends and family of KSR staff.

“We do this because we’ve always wanted to give back for all the support we receive,” Frederiksen said. “People gotta give back. Our business, like everyone else, has been up and down because of the economy, but we just ride the wave because things gotta come back soon. We go with faith.”

For more information or to book a reservation at Kalaheo Steak and Ribs, call 332-4444.

• Dennis Fujimoto can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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