After about a year in the making, the D.K. Restaurant Group has unveiled its shiny, new restaurant, just in time for the holidays. Shearwater Tavern opened on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Azeka Mauka in Kīhei, sharing the old Stella Blues building with farm-to-table eatery Fork & Salad.
“It’s been a really fun and creative process,” says Reed Roberston, who helped develop the concept, brand, design, look and feel of the gastropub.
“First couple days, people were just coming to check us out; after the first two days, we got a huge response,” adds Robertson, saying there have already been lines waiting for the doors to open at 5 p.m.
This is the 8th restaurant in the D.K. Restaurant Group, widely known for the successful Sansei sushi bars on Maui, O’ahu, Hawai’i Island, and more recently, Seattle. This year marks the group’s 20th anniversary.
Chef/Restaurateur D.K. Kodama describes his new restaurant as “a neighborhood gathering place serving a variety of creative comfort food and excellent craft beers.” He says he visited gastropubs around the country, and thought the Kīhei location would be a “perfect fit.”
The collaborative menu includes various flavors and food, including a smoked turkey drumstick with pesto aioli, beer-braised oxtail poutine, a local burger topped with a fried egg, and freshly-made kabocha squash ravioli with jumbo prawns. Another hit has been bone marrow, on the appetizer list.
“Executive Chef Carl Yeh has put a lot of his personal touches into the menu and is extremely creative in the specials we will start to do,” Robertson explains. “His grandma’s recipe for cookies is what makes our ice cream sandwich so amazing.”
Robertson adds that Kodama was actively involved in Shearwater, every step of the way.
“Fine-tuning the menu, making adjustments and fixing things on the minute level, from taste-testing dozens of versions of our nachos, to endless variations of our burger, and even more fine-tuning to the wings. Every detail has been looked over to make sure things taste right,” he says.
Robertson calls the prices, which range from $6.95 to $24.95, “ very affordable,” with daily happy hours from 5 to 6 p.m. that offer $2 off draft beers, signature craft cocktails and wines, plus 50% off appetizers and flatbreads. There’s also a late-night happy hour from 10 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
“We encourage ordering a bunch of stuff and everybody trying everything,” he says. “We want the food to hit the table as fresh as possible.”
As a gastropub, Shearwater will also have an ever-changing list of craft beers available. So far, there are 12 on draft and around 25 carefully-selected craft brands in bottles and cans.
The name of the restaurant came from the Wedge-tailed Shearwater. The bird are native to Hawai‘i and its Hawaiian name is ‘Ua’u Kani; they live at sea and nest at the shoreline.
“I remember learning about shearwaters when I encountered a colony on Kaua‘i years ago. I knew there was a shearwater colony near our new restaurant location,” says Kodama. “I liked the idea of naming our restaurant after the Shearwater.”Shearwater Tavern is located at 1279 South Kīhei Rd. (Azeka Mauka Shopping Center), Kīhei. To learn more, call 808-793-2324 or visit the Shearwater’s website.