By MEGHAN MCNEILL and KIM JACOBSENAPENA Hawaii’s new kani-sushi chain is coming to the Big Island.
The Hawaiian-owned eatery has been in operation for four years in the Pearl Harbor-Kona neighborhood of Honolulu, but its owners say they are in talks with a major chain to open in the area.
The owners of the restaurant say they want to open a second location in the Big Isle, a former industrial site near Honolulu’s international airport that has been transformed into a restaurant destination, grocery store and shopping destination.
In a video posted on Facebook on Monday, Kani owner Tom Soto said the chain’s Hawaiian-inspired dishes, which are served on flat-bottomed sushi rolls, have been gaining popularity since the first restaurant opened in 2014.
The chain is also planning a second restaurant in Maui and a second in Hawaii.
“We have a lot of customers from Hawaii who have been wanting to come back and try our sushi,” Soto told reporters at the Pearl Isle on Monday.
The chain was founded in 2014 by former Honolulu police officer, Kaniela Gonsalves.
The Pearl Isle was once a thriving neighborhood with an influx of foreign workers, and the chain has been serving customers for nearly three decades.
Since the beginning of the year, Kansa sushi restaurants have served more than 10,000 people, according to the chain.
The restaurant has been featured in ABC’s “Hawaii” and “Good Morning America.”
Gonsalve said in a Facebook post last week that the Pearl Islands are “an incredible, beautiful, beautiful place to live and work.”
The Pearl Isle is not far from Honolulu’s airport.
The Big Isle is the largest island in the United States.
Soto said Kani is looking for “the right place to expand” and that he hopes to open another location in Mauio.
He said he hopes the Pearl Isles will be able to welcome a new generation of customers, like his family.
“I’m excited to be able say, ‘Look, Hawaii’s a place I love to be,'” he said.