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Magic’s Beach Grill Opens Temporary Food Truck

October 2, 2018, 11:00 AM HST (Updated October 2, 2018, 8:25 AM)
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Many Kona residents remember the legendary Dorian’s restaurant, which eventually became Jameson’s by the Sea. The landmark building has been vacant for several years with the anticipation of a new dining establishment opening to take the place of these once-beloved restaurants.

Well, the wait is finally over. Magic’s Beach Grill has opened a temporary food truck directly in front of what will soon be its permanent location in the old Jameson’s building.

Magic’s Beach Grill features Market Salad with farmer’s market produce. PC: Karen Rose

Executive Chef Dan Robayo has created a beautiful and incredibly delicious menu to tease local customers with a taste of what’s to come this fall, when Magic’s opens its doors in a new, refurbished locale.

“We’re in the food truck right now, because as you know, opening a business in Hawaiʻi takes time,” said Chef Robayo. “We received our final building permit and broke ground about two weeks ago. The workers are currently in there framing and doing electrical work. We are hoping to be open by the end of October.”

Magic’s Beach Grill features the Big Island Fish Bowl, which includes hoisin-glazed fresh catch with avocado, mango, pea shoots, edamame, inamona and hapa rice. PC: Karen Rose

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A big fan of supporting the local community, Robayo and the restaurant’s owner, Mattson Davis, founder and former president of Kona Brewing, felt it important for the restaurant to be a part of the Kona culture.

“With Kona being a mix of cultural influences, we want to reflect this with the food as well,” said Chef Robayo. “The food’s going to be bright, clean and local, but with a spin on it. I like to do things creatively. We’ve got 12 items on the food truck menu and we’re dealing with about 30 to 40 farms weekly to support those menu items. The restaurant will be on a much larger scale, but still with the same premise.”

Robayo grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where he attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales. He worked for some smaller restaurants where the focus was always on farm-to-table. He has spent over two decades as a chef, following in his father’s footsteps.

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“My father is Venezuelan and my mother is from the low country, so I grew up with southern roots mixed with a lot of Caribbean and tropical flair,” said Chef Robayo. “My wife’s family are Japanese immigrants, so I throw a bunch of Pan-Asian influences into my food as well.”

Magic’s Beach Grill features a Burger of the Week with starfruit and bacon, served with ulu (breadfruit) fries. PC: Karen Rose

Once in the permanent building, Magic’s Beach Grill will have a walk-up window with beach access. For breakfast, they will feature local favorites such as bento style musubi, croissants, parfaits and grab-and-go burritos. Lunch and dinner will be served seven days a week, with brunch on Sundays.

“We will be a causal dining establishment,” said Chef Robayo. “I’m a big fan of wanting to avoid the fine dining label because I don’t want people to think they can only come here on their birthday or anniversary. I want people to feel like they can come in every day for a beer and burger, and can also come in for a birthday and can get a really nice rib-eye with Roquefort. I want people to be able to belly-up to the bar or bring their family to a table. We want to attract everybody—locals and visitors alike. We’re real big on community and supporting our locals here because we wouldn’t be here without them. I also couldn’t do it without my sous chef, Joseph Fougere. I wouldn’t be here without him either.”

Magic’s Beach Grill features Twice fried wings—lightly breaded chicken wings with mango sweet soy, sesame seeds and scallions. PC: Karen Rose

There’s little doubt Magic’s Beach Grill will fill the foodie void Kona has felt on south Aliʻi Drive the past few years. The few dishes currently available at the food truck are nothing short of perfection. The only challenge is determining what entrée to choose.

“I feel that I’m kind of Mother Nature’s middleman and food is my paint I get to play with,” said Chef Robayo. “It’s how I express myself. I feel food is communal and it binds us all. That’s my favorite way to be able to reach out and communicate with people is by sitting at a table and sharing that time with people. It’s very important to me.”

Magic’s Beach Grill is located at 77-6452 Ali‘i Drive in Kailua-Kona.

Karen Rose
Karen Rose is a writer and journalist living on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel, arts and entertainment. She never met a food she didn't like—except black licorice.
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