New Owner, Same Kālua Pig
Kono’s Restaurant on the North Shore hasn’t changed in 14 years—not even its surfing pig logo—despite new owner.
The most popular items at Kono’s Restaurant on the North Shore are the Breakfast Bombers, left, and the kālua pork sandwiches.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
Last September, Stan Glander took a vacation from his job as the chief operating officer at a hotel company in Philadelphia to visit family he hadn’t met on O‘ahu.
The ending of this story is similar to many others who have spend their vacations in the Islands: He loved it and wanted to stay.
The difference, though, is that he figured out a way to make it happen. Glander now owns a small eatery on the North Shore that’s as popular for its breakfast burritos as it is for its surfing pig logo.
Glander, who was born in Honolulu but moved to the Mainland when he was just three, decided he needed a life change. And a new zip code. So, he went back to Philadelphia, quit his job, sold all of his hotel interests, put his two condos up for sale and moved.
“I don’t mess around,” he says, laughing.
He was looking into buying a restaurant on O‘ahu. While he was driving around the North Shore, he noticed a long line of people pouring outside Kono’s Restaurant, an unassuming breakfast-and-lunch spot in the North Shore Marketplace that specializes in slow-cooked kālua pig. The previous owner, who was working on other projects on the Mainland, had put the restaurant up for sale after 14 years in business.
Glander put in an offer and, this past Monday, he closed the deal on the small restaurant that seats about a dozen and is adored with surfboards and surfing pig memorabilia.
“I was looking for three things in a restaurant,” says Glander, who has worked in the restaurant and hotel industries for his entire career. “I wasn’t going to start anything from scratch. It had to be profitable. And it had to be doing well, but it was something I could improve on. And this (restaurant) fit all three.”
Outside the unassuming eatery in the North Shore Marketplace.
On the wall are signed surfboards from surfer fans.
Another wall gallery: Photos of surfing pig tattoos—the restaurant’s logo—on customers. Anyone sporting one of these gets 25 percent off for life.
Kono’s is open every day for breakfast and lunch, and its hefty breakfast burritos are the most popular items. Called Breakfast Bombers, these huge burritos, which start at $7.49, are packed with seasoned Yukon gold potatoes, scrambled eggs, and jack and cheddar cheese and served with a house-made salsa. The most popular is the Chun’s, which comes with kālua pork and bacon in a warm tortilla.
The kālua pork here is the main star. The pork is cooked on-site for about 12 hours, perfectly smoked and fork-tender, then tucked in a burrito with eggs, potatoes, cheese and bacon.
The pork is also served in sandwiches, wraps and plate lunches. The Old School Sandwich ($9.29) is a hearty, crunchy French-style bread stuffed with kālua pork, guava barbecue sauce, caramelized onions and a papaya seed vinaigrette slaw.
We tried the Triple Crown Sandwich ($14.99), a meaty sandwich with ham, bacon, kālua pork, cheese and slaw, smothered in a guava barbecue sauce. It comes with kettle chips. Every bite is packed with three layers of pork. We loved the crunchy bread, the abundance of meat and the balance between the barbecue sauce and slaw. This sandwich was even good the next day, cold.
There are non-pork options, too. The biscuits-and-gravy burrito ($8.50) packs biscuits, gravy, eggs and bacon into a tortilla. And it’s not all about the burritos or kālua pork here. The smoked salmon bagel ($9.69) features cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions and capers, and there are several sandwiches and wraps ($9) with turkey—not kālua pork.
Kono’s also offers a slew of veggie options, including the sprout bagel ($7.69), with cream cheese, avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprouts, and the Pūpūkea Bomber ($7.99) with roasted vegetables.
For beverages, the restaurant serves thick milkshakes, private-roast coffee, strawberry-banana smoothies and freshly squeezed, made-to-order lemonade or limeade with an option to add fresh mint, strawberries or pineapple.
Glander doesn’t have any plans to change the menu—at least, not just yet. But he’s thinking about opening a second location, maybe closer to town. Still, he’s in no rush.
“Part of my reason for coming here is to enjoy life,” he says.
Kono’s Restaurant, 66-250 Kamehameha Highway, Hale‘iwa, 637-9211