New food venue at Bayview; Oahu not hot for New Year's
One Square Restaurant & Bar had its grand opening yesterday at Bayview Golf Park in Kaneohe.
"We first opened November 16 on the restaurant side, with all the food, and everyone seemed to like it," said Jaren Niimi, owner and executive chef.
The golf course itself reopened Nov. 17.
All 18 holes are open for play, said John Rego, owner and operator. The first tee-off is at 7 a.m. Twilight is considered 4 p.m. and the last group tees off at 5 p.m. because it gets dark early during these winter months, Rego said.
The Roger Dunn Golf Shop is also open for business, he said.
Without advertising, One Square has been managing to rake in good business, in part by showing the UH games, Niimi said. That means lots of liquids and flowing food.
"All the business has been through word of mouth. It's been really good. I've been surprised how many customers came through here," he said.
Niimi describes his food as "local comfort food, real simple stuff."
As if ahi pizza is common fare.
"It's pretty popular," Niimi said of the recipe he created.
His recipes are behind every menu item, he said -- nothing from mom.
"I bring in fresh fish, reef fish," but the restaurant's emphasis is not on seafood. There's a balance of beef, poultry, "food basics and simpler stuff like hamburgers" and other traditional golf club fare.
"I really enjoy cooking and working with food," he said.
Niimi started gaining culinary experience while a student at Konawaena High School, working under his mentor Ryan Vargas at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Pearl City native Vargas now toils at a Four Seasons Resort in Florida, Niimi said.
More recently, Niimi served as executive chef at Tsukiji Fish Market and Restaurant at Ala Moana Center.
"I gained a lot of experience from a lot of people" -- and then this opportunity arose.
"There was always a dream of mine to have my own restaurant, basically something simple and affordable for everyone," he said.
Most people don't realize their dream at Niimi's age -- he's 22. The restaurant business is no easy thing. This dream also comes with nightmares.
Most of us have no concept of the regulatory and other headaches restaurateurs face daily in order to pursue their passion.
"I work in the kitchen every day along with doing the other things," he said.
Despite other employers' woes, Niimi reports having no difficulties rounding up his 12 employees -- and he is still hiring. Area residents and college students make up the bulk of his staff, but the chef has to commute from Mililani.
From Wednesday through Monday, One Square is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the bar is open until 11 p.m.
"Starting January 6, we'll be open at 6 a.m. for breakfast," Niimi said.
Gone from Gayot
From last year to this year, Hawaii has disappeared from the Gayot.com Top 10 Spots for New Year's Eve.
Oahu was listed last year for Aloha Tower Marketplace's fireworks and for readily available Japanese New Year's foods.
But alas, this year Gayot has moved on, choosing Amsterdam, Netherlands; London; Madrid, Spain (where tradition recommends you wear red unmentionables for luck); New Orleans; New York; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sydney, Australia; Tokyo, Toronto and Vienna, Austria.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org