A dream come true: Kamuela Kitchen and Coffee Bar brings a new relaxed dining option to Waimea

  • Kamuela Kitchen staff take a quick break on a busy Wednesday afternoon.

  • Tasha Kunishige, operations manager at the new cafe, prepares a panini in the kitchen.

  • The restaurant has had a steady stream of diners since it opened. (Photos by LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are colorfully displayed below the beverage menu. (Photos by LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • Kamuela Cafe and Coffee Bar’s design is a good fit for Waimea, with ohia pillars, shutters, doors and a hitching rack made to look like the old hitching racks used by cowboys.

WAIMEA — Kamuela Kitchen and Coffee Bar has recently opened in Waimea, offering a new option for lunch, a coffee break or dessert treat.

The family friendly restaurant on Mamalohoa Highway, just east of Big Island Brewhaus, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and features fresh baked goods from its backdoor neighbor, Mamane Bakery.

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From the attention to detail inside to its overall country feel and homemade food, Kamuela Kitchen seems a perfect fit for Waimea’s landscape and sensibility, which is exactly what owner Pearl Radnitz envisioned.

She relocated to the Big Island after the death of husband, producer Robert B. Radnitz. Throughout their married life, the couple had come to Mauna Kea Resort every Christmas. They made good friends and Pearl had fond memories of their time on Hawaiian Island.

She met Ely Pessah, owner of Mamane Bakery in Waimea, and the two of them discussed the idea of her opening a cafe. This was cemented when he suggested she build on the lot in front of him, using freshly made bread and pastries supplied by the bakery.

The restaurant was built by Monty Miranda and his Monty Miranda Construction crew. Much of the decor inside and out is custom build, including the ohia pillars, shutters, doors and a hitching rack made to look like the old hitching racks used by cowboys to tie up their horses. Inside, Kamuela Kitchen has a comfy farmhouse decor. Miranda used a siding on the walls, placed vertically, for a shiplap look reminiscent of old single wall homes.

While opening the restaurant is her dream come true, Pearl will be the first to tell you it’s a team effort.

While eating fries at Village Burger, Pearl met Tasha Kunishige and a friendship developed. Kunishige was the kitchen manager there and she recently resigned to become the new operations manager for Kamuela Kitchen. She says she was drawn to work for Pearl because of her happy and go-lucky personality.

“It was sad to leave my old crew; they’re super awesome and I love them all but I’m excited for my new adventure,” she said. “People grow and new opportunities come along. Being able to start fresh in a new kitchen with amazing staff, I feel confident that Kamuela Kitchen will be doing great things for our community. I’m thankful for this journey and ready to lead the team to success.”

Kunishige was born and raised in Honokaa. Her first job was working at Tex Drive In in Honokaa. She then went to work in the kitchen at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, followed by the cafeteria at Honokaa High and the Foodland Deli. She worked at Village Burger for six years, which has been currently ranked No. 8 in the nation on Yelp.

While getting the cafe ready to open, Pearl greatly appreciated the help provided to her by her good friend Dave Abrahams, owner of Waimea’s Red Water Cafe. He donated hours of time helping Pearl break in her kitchen and learn how to use the equipment. He also approved his head chef, Juan Caballero, to work at Kamuela Kitchen mornings while still working at Red Water Cafe at night. Kamuela Kitchen’s menu features several products from Red Water Cafe.

Menu items at Kamuela Kitchen include minestrone soup, Ortolana (blended minestrone soup), the classic chopped salad, Caesar salad and pasta salad. A wide variety of sandwiches are served, including a salami Swiss, tuna melt, corned beef or pastrami and a vegetarian sandwich. The Doady hot dog on the menu is in honor of Pearl’s husband who loved hot dogs. Fresh carrot and orange juice are also available.

The cafe also features daily specials including local favorites such as bread bowls with clam chowder, one of Miranda’s favorites.

A unique attribute of the cafe is the Miva Ginseng machine. Imported from Italy, ginseng is added to regular coffee for an added kick of energy and flavor. With a hint of ginger it’s tasty, and ginseng proponents say the herb provides the benefits of being able to concentrate and respond to stimulus in a faster more accurate fashion. The Miva machine also provides Red Water Cafe chocolate shots.

As the name suggests, Kamuela Kitchen has an extensive coffee bar and an ice cream sundae bar. True to Pearl’s original vision, the cafe’s comfortable farmhouse interior has a cozy corner area where people can enjoy their meal, sip their coffee, enjoy their favorite drink and read the newspaper. Covered outdoor seating is also provided on three sides of the restaurant and several picnic tables in the back yard.

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The cafe’s homey atmosphere, cleanliness and attention to detail are a reflection of the collaboration and work ethic of Pearl and her team.

Info: Go to www.kamuelakitchen.com or call 885-9380.