Business

Luquin’s Looking to Reopen in 2019

December 21, 2018, 1:05 PM HST
* Updated January 18, 1:55 PM
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Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant in Pāhoa was destroyed by a fire in January 2017. The building itself was built in 1907 and the restaurant will now reopen at a new location on Kahakai Boulevard.

The fire in 2017 also took out three commercial properties—the historic Akebono Theater, which was built in 1926, a smaller commercial building built in 1938 and a large multi-use residential and commercial building.

Former location of Luquin’s Restaurant and Akebono Theater. PC: Tiffany Rippa

The Hawai‘i Police Department officers did not suspect the fire was started by foul play.

Shortly after the fire, owner Salvador Luquin stated that he had planned to rebuild at the same location, but those plans changed when he was offered the former building that KFC had built on Kahakai Boulevard in Woodland Center. He had hoped to open by the holidays in 2017.

After the fire, Luquin’s set up a food truck on its property. It has been popular with Pāhoa residents.

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Luquin’s plans to keep the food tuck in operations at the former restaurants location in town after the new restaurant finally opens.

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After permitting delays prevented the restaurant from opening, paperwork has now been signed and the restaurant is gearing up to open again in 2019.

The Kahakai building itself served as a temporary kitchen in 2018 for the World Central Kitchen Organization shortly after Kīlauea erupted in the Lower East Rift Zone, displacing thousands of Puna residents and leaving them few dining options or even businesses from which they could purchase food.

Meals prepared at the temporary kitchen were brought to evacuation shelters throughout Puna as well as the Pu‘uhonua O Puna Hub.

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“The menu is going to be organized a little differently but we [will] still be offering all of [our] items and are adding some great specials like the Chile Verde and Chile Colorado to the everyday menu,” said Kirstin Heid, who co-manages the restaurant. “There is a beautiful bar, and we have our liquor license. We plan on having 8 to 12 beers on tap and of course our great margaritas.”

When asked if Luquin’s would be using the drive-thru window that the building has, Heid said, “No the drive thru isn’t going to be used for food pick up. We hope to incorporate some outdoor seating in the future.”

There are no current plans for the vacant lot in downtown Pāhoa other than their current food truck that has been in place there.

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