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Wahoo’s Kahala is both eco- and family-friendly

Erika Engle

In 12 short days, sisters Noel Pietsch and Stephanie Pietsch Gambetta will be throwing open the doors to their new Wahoo’s Fish Taco neighborhood restaurant in Kahala, at the corner of Kilauea and Pahoa avenues.

The target opening date is Dec. 1, "pending inspections," Noel said. Nearly all of the staff has been hired and is in training at the Ward store. The company will have added 40 employees for the new opening.

A neighbor to Olive Tree Cafe, Subway, a day spa and a hair salon, this will be the first of the sisters’ neighborhood Wahoo’s, designed more for families and lingering than is the faster-paced flagship Wahoo’s on Ward Avenue. The flagship store enjoys quite a bit of visitor traffic, "regulars are our bread and butter," Noel said. The hope is that area residents will become regulars of Wahoo’s Kahala.

While new, all of the wood, the "tiles" behind the bar and as many other building materials as possible are reclaimed, recycled or re-purposed.

In fact, the team that worked with the sisters on opening the first Wahoo’s five years ago was also recycled for this project.

Among them, McCabe Construction Co. Inc. is the contractor, Haleiwa Surfboard Co. made the glassed entry door, and Kelly Sueda’s art will grace a large section of wall.

"We brought in people we love to work with," said Stephanie.

Designers Aubrey and Brady Yee helped the sisters "value-engineer" the interior in order to come in under budget, Noel said, hence the reclaimed materials including the bar tiles, which are actually old window louvers. A drink station was built largely with wood crates in which the kitchen equipment was shipped, and Re-Use Hawaii supplied most of the rest.

Adding to the old, vintage pictures of Kahala and Diamond Head will be among the multitude of pictures and curios adorning the walls. Wahoo’s co-founder Wing Lam used his tight surf industry connections to help the sisters secure some surfboard leashes, also to be used as decorations in the surf- and taco-themed restaurant.

Outside, "we’ll have bike racks" for area families who want to ride their bikes to the restaurant for dinner and bike back home, adding to the "neighborhood feeling," Stephanie said.

In keeping with the lingering-enhanced environment, the restaurant will have four large TVs, and there will be a "mug club," Noel said. The cost to join is still being figured out, but members’ mugs and a personal quote to be displayed with them will be kept on a prominent shelf along with other members’ beverage vessels. To fill those vessels with something other than suds, mixologist Joey Gottesman of Better Brands Inc. is working up a cocktail menu using all fresh juices.

Wahoo’s will be open from 11 a.m. daily, and weekend breakfasts may be added at a future date. Acoustic music will be offered Tuesday and Friday evenings from about 7 to no later than 9:30 p.m.

The parking lot outside the restaurant is small, but additional parking is available at the adjacent post office after 5:30 p.m. for $1.

Noting the vast population sprawled between the restaurant and Hawaii Kai, Wahoo’s Kahala will accept phone orders for takeout service. It also will accommodate some curbside pickup for moms who are bringing home the baby as well as the "bacon" for the evening repast.

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