Business Monday: Harbor House to raise funds for Hawai‘i Fire through inaugural golf tournament

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Harbor House Restaurant in Kailua-Kona. Photo courtesy: Facebook

Tawny Hanakeawe still remembers the night her father’s fishing boat capsized in Kealakekua Bay seven years ago.

It was 1:30 in the morning when Hawai‘i Fire Department responded and was able to track the fisherman down, in the pitch black night, as he used landmarks to lead first responders to his location.

Since becoming the general manager at Kona’s local eatery the Harbor House Restaurant two years ago, Hanakeawe was tasked by the new owners to find nonprofits and other groups that the restaurant could support throughout the year. For Hanakeawe, the choice was easy.

Hanakeawe connected with the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds and equipment for the fire department, and knew this was her opportunity to give back and thank those firefighters who put their lives on the line for her dad.

Harbor House employees pose with Hawai‘i Fire Department in front of the first responders’ new rescue boat in April 2024. Photo courtesy: Tawny Hanakeawe

On the fourth Tuesday of every month, a portion of the restaurant’s sales made after 3 p.m. goes toward the foundation.


On April 27, the foundation, along with other partners, including Harbor House, officially gifted and blessed a new rescue boat to the fire department, which will be stationed in Kailua-Kona.

Hanakeawe said it was a full circle moment for her as she got to meet and thank the first responders who saved her dad.

“Because of Tawny’s commitment to her family and our community and her desire to help is really shaping the future for Harbor House in our community and [we’re] doing everything we can to help,” said co-owner of Harbor House, Matthew “Mog” Mather.

Before becoming a part owner in the Harbor House a couple of years ago, Mather said he hadn’t seen the restaurant involved in the community. “As owners, we wanted that to change.”

The Harbor House donated approximately $10,000 to the $352,000 vessel. Because of their donation, Co-founder of the Sayre Foundation, Laura Mallery-Sayre, said they were able to get a lot of extra equipment, like an AED.


Replacing a boat that is 30 years old, Hawai‘i Fire Deputy Chief Eric Moller said the new boat is equipped with radar and sonar and has a substantial motor, improving the department’s capacity to provide a stable and effective rescue.

The Harbor House will continue supporting the nonprofit when it hosts its first annual golf tournament on July 27. Hanakeawe said 100% of the money raised will go toward the Sayre Foundation. Those who aren’t avid golfers can donate to a silent auction or sponsor a golf hole.

The deadline to register is July 21. See the flier below for more information.

“This will be our first attempt at a big one-time type of fundraising venture and we are really hoping it’ll be successful in raising the monies needed,” Mather said.

Mather said he’d love to see something like the tournament become an annual event that they can learn from and build on.


Mallery-Sayre said the partnership with Harbor House is fabulous as it takes a community to make things happen. “We’re just so grateful for her [Tawny’s] love and commitment to save lives.”

“If everyone gives a little we can make a difference in our community,” Hanakeawe said. “We have a responsibility to support those who show up when no one else does.”

Frank Sayre said there are a lot of people who go to the Harbor House as it has been a staple of the Kona community for the past 25 years. Hanakeawe is helping spread the word.

Hanakeawe said it’s almost a right of passage to eat at the restaurant.

With outdoor seating scattered about a wrap-around lanai, the Harbor House offers customers a variety of lunches, dinners and drinks while taking in the picturesque view of Kona’s Honokohau Harbor with its boats quietly docked, light breezes passing through and of course the orange and pink sunsets.

Mather said when the new owners took over, one of their main goals was to keep things business as usual.

“People have come to know it as a nice mellow place where they can come and have some nice cold drinks and some good food,” Mather said.

Mather and the co-owners did little things to make the enviornment more enjoyable for customers like adding more TVs and freezers to keep schooners ice cold throughout the day.

Aside from raising funds for the Sayre Foundation, the restaurant also started a lunch program to thank people in the community like school teachers, school custodians, as well as first responders.

Mather said the Harbor House donated to various youth sports teams for uniforms or travel opportunities. Christmas, they support the local kūpuna through various local charities such as the Salvation Army and The Giving Tree.

“As owners, we employ close to 30 employees who provide our services to many local families and tourists alike, and as a business to be able to give back to show our aloha to the people who come to support us and our families is a good feeling,” Mather said.

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