Ohana Island Kitchen, the Hawaiian lunch stop in Highland that serves poké bowls, bento boxes and spam musubi from a walk-up window on the side of the Truffle Table, will soon have a storefront of its own. Because of an increase in demand and the fact that Ohana owners Louie and Regan Colburn have always wanted their own shop, the couple is taking over the location that was formerly Jay's Patio Cafe at 2563 15th Street.
The building is owned by Frank Schultz of Tavern Hospitality Group, whose plans for the spot didn't include a Hawaiian restaurant— until he was introduced to Ohana. Regan Colburn was persistent in getting the attention of the landlord and convinced Schultz and his team to try Ohana. She explains that when he first came over to the window, "he liked the vibe." Approval from the Tavern Group is a testament to the quality that has earned a passionate following of lunch-goers in a short amount of time; the Colburns only opened Ohana four months ago.
Spicy tuna poke from Ohana Island Kitchen.
"It's crazy," Regan says of the rapid change. The new Ohana will occupy the quaint 1,000-square-foot former sandwich shop with room for twenty guests inside and about twenty more on the patio. Most important, a larger kitchen opens up the opportunity for an expanded menu. "We currently don't have a full-sized kitchen," Reagan points out. "They don't have a hood or vents here, so we can't fry anything. Originally, we were going to do loco moco, but that was totally out. So that's kind of why we went with the menu that we chose. But over there, it does have a full vent and hood, so we can add a lot of stuff to the menu — like our loco moco."
For those who aren't as familiar with the classic, Regan explains: "A loco moco is a hamburger patty with a fried egg over rice and topped with brown gravy. It's a very traditional Hawaiian thing. We're going to have a lot of breakfast items."
The Colburns could have the new Ohana up and running as soon as October 15 or by the first week of November, depending on how long it takes to complete some minor remodeling. "Honestly, the lease is only for a year, so we don't want to put too much money into the place," Regan says. "We're just cleaning, painting, [installing]new flooring — but not a lot of structural changes. We're just working with what we've got. It needs love. We might extend the lease if it goes well."
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Big flavors come from the small window at Ohana.