PBN: Business booming for local eateries featured on national shows

Published On: Jul 11 2013 06:21:00 PM HST

The tastes of Hawaii are now making mouths water all around the world. Reality shows on stations like the Food Network are opening a lot of eyes to our unique cuisine.

Our partners at Pacific Business News say one moment in the national spotlight can work wonders for a local restaurant.

At the Shrimp Shack in Punalu'u, the menu's long, but what to order is a no-brainer.

"Can I get the Surf and Surf?" asked a customer.

Shrimp, steak and fish are constantly being cooked. Those are part of three dishes that got featured on the Food Network's "Unique Eats." The Shrimp Shack went into business 15 years ago and turned red-hot after appearing on just one TV show.

"They (the customers) come flocking here and say we saw you on the food channel and booked our flight to come to the Shrimp Shack," says Irene Theofanis, owner of the Shrimp Shack.

Theofanis says about 70 percent of her customers are tourists, and easily half have seen the Shrimp Shack on TV including a couple visiting the islands from South Dakota. The food looked so good, they decided to fly here and try it.

"We drove a little ways up here and we were very excited to get our spicy garlic shrimp and mahi mahi and go to town," says Kenny Allen, a visitor from South Dakota.

The Shrimp Shack has been on the Food Network twice now, each time after getting a call out of the blue from a production company. Theofanis is glad she answered.

"I probably would be doing half the revenue I'm doing now. They've helped tremendously," says Theofanis.

Down the road in Kahalu'u, Mike's Huli Huli Chicken has a similar story. They never got that magic phone call but the Food Network's Guy Fieri and "Man vs Food" star Adam Richmond just showed up at random. After posting those photos online, business took off.

"All the way in Hong Kong, we got people over seas, tourists, 'we heard about you, we saw Guy Fieri,' and business is booming," says Warren Ford, manager at Mike's Huli Huli Chicken.

But what about businesses that haven't been featured? Between Kahalu'u and Punalu'u is the Waikane store. It's been in business for over 100 years and has survived without national exposure.

"It's really up and down, during the summer is quite busy and then it slows down after that," says Alden Tokuzato, manager at the Waikane store.

The store's fried chicken and sushi rolls are local favorites.

"It would be nice to be nationally recognized," says Tokuzato.

But they're still waiting for that big break.


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