Kai Loki’s Restaurant Opens in Place of Ocean View’s Mehe’s

October 30, 2020, 6:00 AM HST (Updated October 30, 2020, 6:48 AM)
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Jessica and David Pannell at the blessing and soft opening of their new restaurant, Kai Loki’s. (PC: Verna Keoho)

The Mehe’s Ka‘ū Bar and Grill in Ocean View was sold and has reopened as Kai Loki’s Restaurant and Bar.

Ocean View residents joined the establishment’s new owners, David Pannell and his wife Jessica, for the soft opening and blessing of the business, located at the intersection of Hawai‘i Boulevard and Highway 11 on Wednesday.

“We’re sure they’re going to make a success of the place,” said the restaurant’s previous owner Shannon Meheula on Thursday. “The food is good, the service is good and we’re happy it’s going to carry on.”

The restaurant is named after the Pannells’ dogs, Kai and Loki.

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“We didn’t know what to name it — it just came out and it sounded really good,” Pannell explained.

The official opening is scheduled today.

Mehe’s served the Ocean View community as a hub for food and entertainment for about five years. However, between the owners’ desire to retire, and the COVID-19 pandemic’s crippling effects on the economy, Meheula and her husband Dale felt it was time sell.

Victor Manongdo, assistant manager of Mehe’s, said he and the 16 employees were sad when they heard the news a few months ago.

“This establishment, it’s like the heart of Ocean View,” Manongdo explained. “It gave some sense of normalcy to still have someplace to eat and drink.”

The Pannells learned Mehe’s was for sale while they were waiting to move to the Big Island a few months ago from Portland, Oregon.

“I immediately thought that’s 16 people out of work and that’s a place where would go when we live here,” Pannell recalled.

Despite having no real experience in the restaurant industry, the Pannells reached out to the Meheulas about buying the establishment. Pannell was optimistic that he and his wife could keep the business going, despite the ongoing pandemic.

Pannell was able to bring back all the employees including providing additional jobs. Manongdo is also working as the restaurant’s general manager. Pannell plans to hire more people in the coming future.

“The crew is great and hard workers and we just took a chance for ourselves, the community and the people here,” Pannell said Thursday. “We couldn’t have done this without the community’s support.”

During the soft opening, Pannell said, they had 80 to 100 people throughout the day come eat at the restaurant.

“It gave us goosebumps,” he added. “We’re doing the right thing.”

Kai Loki’s is keeping Mehe’s menu. Offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and full bar services, their menus feature island favorites with the owners’ promise to focus on using locally sourced products from the finest suppliers in the area and to prepare each meal made to order.

Several members of the local community were involved in creating the decor, which purposely reflects its rural location. A series of large island murals welcome customers at the entry.

“It’s got some different, new energy,” Manongdo explained.

Manongdo feels fortunate to be part of the new establishment.

“One door seems to close and another one seems to open, which makes me feel there is more to do here,” he said. “All people who work here are like an ‘ohana for sure.”

Kai Loki’s offers breakfast starting at 8 a.m. (7 a.m. on Sundays) followed by a lunch menu at 11 a.m. The dinner menu is available from 5-8 p.m. (9 on Fridays). The restaurant is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Manongdo said the restaurant also hosts a paint-and-sip night on Thursdays and Karaoke on Fridays.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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