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Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island
Bob and Nicole Bowman of California get run-of-the-house seating Tuesday after being seated by Kilohana’s Kalena Taylor during the Kilohana reopening day in Puhi.
Fred Atkins and kumu Sabra Kauka get a milestone family portrait Tuesday during the reopening of Kilohana in Puhi.
Ryan and Aspen Atkins are excited about the ATV ride during the Rum Safari tour that is part of the Kilohana reopening Tuesday in Puhi.
Kumu Sabra Kauka gets help from Rae Hiramoto in getting the final blessing of Kilohana done Tuesday while lunch guests wait to be seated at The Plantation House dining room in Puhi.
Amanda Gibbs, Jasmine Narciso and Kaelyn Fernandez get ready for a birthday party Tuesday during the reopening of the Kilohana dining room in Puhi.
PUHI — “We’re open!”
Those were words from Fred Atkins that a lot of people were waiting to hear Tuesday as kumu Sabra Kauka officiated a blessing of the property and its staff with an oli of long life.
“We’ve had a separation of 15 years,” said Nicole Bowman of California, among the first guests to be seated following the short blessing marking the reopening. “The last time, we were on our honeymoon, and we sat right there.”
Atkins said the Kilohana reopening involves not just the dining room, but other aspects of the
plantation estate, including the Kilohana Plantation Railway train, the Koloa Rum tasting room, and the safari.
“We’re still waiting to reopen Lu‘au Kalamaku,” Atkins said. “But everyone else is open.”
During the closure that started in March 2020 because of the global pandemic, the staff was whittled to just seven people dedicated to keeping the expansive plantation going. They repainted, redesigned, reworked and rebuilt the culinary staff, led by chef Johnny Saguid.
“When Johnny took over, the crew was not his,” Atkins said. “During this time when Johnny changed his chef’s jacket for a carpenter’s apron, he not only rebuilt and repaired the building, he built his new staff that you could feel the synergy when I met them.”
This is the “aloha” Atkins means when he describes Kilohana as a place of “aloha” for everyone who visits.
“This was so empty when I used to pass on my way to Island School,” Kauka said. “I missed not having the music, the feeling of people getting together, the lu‘au and the aloha.”
That changed Tuesday when Rae Hiramoto said Kilohana is open Monday through Saturday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Happy hour is from 3 to 5 p.m., and dinner service is from 5 to 8 p.m.
“We’re closed on Sundays,” Hiramoto said. “The shops inside Kilohana are all open with their individual hours. Chloe from the Sweet Shop is in the process of moving the shop to the back.”
But everything is open, including Clayworks at Kilohana and the Koloa Rum Company.
Life has returned to Kilohana.
“And we’re a lively bunch,” said Kalena Taylor, one of the Kilohana staff.
Information can be found and reservations made at kilohanakauai.com.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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