Hilo Bay Soup Company: a One-Man Show with Attitude
You could never accuse Tim Vezina of over-hiring.
During rush-hour, the co-owner of Hilo Bay Soup Company is one part sandwich artist, one part self-described soup Nazi.
“I can move 20 people through here on my own, but it’s no nonsense,”
describes Vezina, who also serves as the establishment’s cashier.
A former custom-home builder from New Hampshire, Vezina traded power tools for kitchen knives after meeting his present business partner, New York chef and restaurateur Phil Andriano.
According to Vezina, he expressed his interest in the restaurant industry to Andriano while building a home for him in Volcano. After being impressed by a friend’s soup business in New York City, Andriano suggested opening the Hilo Bay Soup Company.
Adriano and Vezina signed a three year lease in a space that once housed the well-known “Broke Da Mouth” eatery.
“We lucked out with the permitting. A lot of that had already been done” explains Vezina, who describes a relatively smooth renovation process.The approximately 650 square foot location includes limited indoor seating, along with an outdoor patio.
The pair are 50/50 partners in the venture, which cost around $35,000 to open. It’s a figure Vezina shares willingly, expressing interest in franchising their operation in the future.
“This is a real efficient way to run a business” explains Vezina, who feels the low startup costs and one-man nature of the venture would make it appealing to other entrepreneurs.
“Efficient” is an accurate description of the establishment, which at times resembles the bustle of a New York street cart.
To prepare Vezina, a first-time food service professional, for the rigors of running the establishment himself, Andriano provided six months of intensive training, which included both cooking lessons and tutorials on how to control expenses.
The menu is decidedly northeastern in focus, with a variety of chowders available (including Vezina’s home-inspired New England creation.) Sandwiches are made-to-order on custom-made rolls. Customers can choose their own toppings, or go for one of the house specialties like the popular “Bronx Bomber,” a pile of thinly sliced roast beef, doused in hot aus jus.
Soup specials change daily. Phone orders are encouraged, and curbside pickup is available on request.
The Hilo Bay Soup Company is located at 140 Kilauea Ave. Hilo.
Phone: (808) 935-SOUP (7687)
Hours of operation: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.