What is going on with the restaurant scene in Kailua-Kona?


 Are you wondering what is going on with the restaurant scene in Kona? And perhaps the update of Naimalu MarketPlace, which will include new restaurants in the future? Below are updates about what is coming, what is new and suggestions for restaurants that are fun and most importantly COVID-19 safe. Supporting local businesses is really important during this time, so check out some of these spots and tip your server! 


Kona Brewery and The Brewery Block

Kona’s new 30,000-square-foot brewery, canning operation and tasting room is getting ready to open its new location later this year, just down the street from the original Kona Brewery & Pub. 

Willie’s Hot Chicken is the most recent new restaurat to open its doors in the Brewery Block, and is serving up some admittedly spicy chicken to Kona residents and visitors. My friends have been raving about their chicken sandwiches and we plan on doing a livestream to help support the owner, Alan Winston. 

Fun story: This Nashville delicacy became famous in the 1930’s through the local legend of a scorned woman seeking revenge. She served her unfaithful lover a chicken dish covered in spicy cayenne pepper as punishment, but instead of hurting him, he loved it! So much for getting even. 

Other restaurants opening in the Brewery Block are Sushi Shiono and Umeke’s. 

Niumalu Marketplace

Kailua-Kona’s newest shopping center, Niumalu Marketplace is scheduled to open in mid-December. The center will host what appears to be a MASSIVE Safeway and up to 25-30 spaces for local and national restaurants and stores. They won’t release who is coming in until all the leases are signed, so stay tuned. We did a YouTube video flying over this marketplace if you have not yet seen how big it is! (and if you are new to the party on this development, it is located off of Henry Street under Queen K) 

Papa Kona Restaurant & Bar

A restaurant that is relatively new to Kona is called Papa Kona Restaurant & Bar at the Waterfront Plaza in Kailua Village. My husband and I recently visited for a livestream sunset on the 365 Things to Do in Kona Facebook page. We personally met Chef Chris as he sautéed up a fabulous Pasta Puttanesca and added wit and wisdom (he’s a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef), and the staff was incredibly friendly. I enjoyed a great MaiTai on the balcony watching the sunset of downtown Kona. They have limited hours of Wed-Sun 7 am- 11 pm. 

Humpy’s is still open and offering a fantastic happy hour menu with a view. We went to check in on the Coffee Shack yesterday after hearing rumors of its closing. They are NOT closing and have cut their hours to be open Thursday through Monday. Kona Inn may be closing until the tourists return and Island Ono Loa Grill is on hiatus while traveling on the mainland. We are watching as every restaurant has a story of what they can and will do to make it through.



Downtown Holualoa 

Sadly, a staple of Holualoa life is closing tonight, Sunday August 30th, Holuakoa Cafe. Many friends made reservations during the past week to get in one more time for a treat of ambiance and history. We can only hope that another entrepreneurial soul will step in and do something amazing in that space. 

My photographer/model daughter found plenty of whimsy and creative spark when she went to this colorful downtown recently and did a photo shoot against the pink Kona Hotel and the green church in mid-town. The town is known for its art, so we hope it continues to inspire. 

Magic’s Grill

Unpaid plug- If you are looking to grab a drink and watch the sunset or the striking blue blue water, Magic’s Grill is one of my favorite spots. I have been there numerous times now with my friends due to the outdoor seating and ocean breeze.  They have weekly burger specials and I have never been disappointed!

Residents and visitors who are ready to dine out again are encouraged to continue to abide by recommended safety precautions such as mask-wearing and hand-washing. Share the aloha by keeping yourself and those around you as safe and healthy as possible. 

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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