KAPA‘A — Jimmy Jasper, a local restaurateur and real estate developer, is waiting for visitors to return before he opens his businesses, but he’s been working on the finishing touches of NoKa Beachfront — a collection of shopping, bars and restaurants that sits along the northern edge of Kapa‘a.
Standing next to the sea is Jimmy’s Grill, a tiny tiki-style eatery lined with blue picnic tables that face the ocean. A handful of other food trucks are scattered nearby, giving customers plenty of options for post-surf grinds.
Jasper said Jimmy’s Grill was mirrored after the original place he opened in 1988 which was destroyed by Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992.
Jasper is also the developer of a colorful boardwalk shopping experience through NoKa Fair, which is located across the old Otsuka furniture building in Kapa‘a.
When driving by, NoKa Fair’s shops can be seen on the highway; it has 19 brightly-colored shopping containers that have been re-purposed for local retailers to carry and sell unique gifts and local products.
When the pandemic hit, Jasper was forced to close his Jimmy’s Grill on NoKa Beach front and his NoKa Fair tenants struggled to stay open. As a result of COVID-19, Jasper said he is down to only one tenant left at NoKa Fair.
“We rely 70% on our tourism industry. My retail guys, no one can pay rent when your business is predicated on a segment, and the segment is no longer there, you can’t keep the lights on,” said Jasper.
Jasper said some of his tenants told him they were going to get another job.
“That’s where I see it, that’s where its going, they will need to work at a paycheck producing jobs like Home Depot or Ace Hardware. They need something to do to pay their mortgage or rent, they can’t just rely on retail,” said Jasper.
Jasper is the son of JJ’s Broiler restaurant (Nawiliwili) owners Jim and Mary Jasper who he said has been running the restaurant for over 50 years.
Jasper and his sister Jennifer Jasper have been waiting since the day they closed their grill establishment on NoKa Beach and their NoKa Fair shops for Gov. David Ige to approve travel to Hawai‘i from the Mainland and other countries.
“We rely on tourists, so we will wait until we get that approval, then we will open up. My sister is the one that pays the bills while I spend it,” Jasper said with a smile.
Jasper said he was a restaurateur first then merged into a developer. He believes that because of his parents’ long relationship with the community and banks, he thinks that is why the banks trust and support his ideas.
“Maybe that’s because my family has been servicing debt in the restaurant business for so many years, which is the hardest that the bankers will take a chance with hard-working families,” said Jasper
His roots on Kaua‘i inspired Jasper’s vision for NoKa Fair, Jimmy’s Grill and NoKa Beach front.
“Keeping Kapa‘a the cute little village that I grew up in without making it like Southern California’s strip mall,” said Jasper.
Jasper and his siblings attended Wilcox Elementary, Koloa School, and Kapa‘a Elementary School before he headed to an all-boys high school in California.
Jasper is inspired to share the aloha with all who visit his establishments.
“We (Kaua‘i) just have a lovely ‘Aloha Spirit,’ believe it or not, that’s what people love. People want to be appreciated and included. They also don’t want to be shuttled around to luau, they want to go where the locals go,” said Jasper.
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.