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Hilo Bay Cafe eyes spot … on the bay


Tribune-Herald staff writer

Hilo Bay Cafe plans to move to a new location later this year that better fits its name.

On Friday, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider authorizing the sale of the bay-side Nihon Restaurant to Kim Snuggerud, owner of Hilo Bay Cafe.

If approved, the sale would mark the end of the Japanese restaurant, located at 123 Lihiwai St., next to Liliuokalani Gardens.

“In the fall, we will be Hilo Bay Cafe,” said Kelly Martin-Young, Nihon manager.

The Hilo Trading Co., which owns Nihon, authorized the sale last October, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which owns the property.

Martin-Young declined further comment. A phone and email message to Snuggerud wasn’t returned.

BLNR at the meeting will also consider authorizing a $500,000 mortgage between First Hawaiian Bank and the Hilo Trading Co.

The loan will be used to complete extensive renovations, according to DLNR.

Hilo Trading Co. has leased the land since 1982.

The restaurant, which sits on stilts and provides magnificent views of the bay and Mauna Kea, was constructed the following year.

Hilo Bay Cafe became incorporated in 2003, according to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Offering local and organic ingredients, it has become a popular restaurant despite being tucked away in a shopping center at 315 Makaala St., about two miles from the bay it’s named after.

Hilo Bay Cafe’s website has hinted at moving to a bay-front location in the future and has poked fun at its existing less-than-desirable spot near Walmart and other large retail stores.

A long-term lease is the reason for its current predicament, its website says under a section titled “dark secret.”

“Long-term leases were signed, and that’s the dark secret,” it says. “Once you’re inside the doors, however, you’ll forget the forgettable location.

“Maybe someday this gem will be on the bay.”

That day appears to be arriving sooner rather than later.

Email Tom Callis at


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