By JOHN DEGROOTE
Stephens Media Hawaii
The Mad Marlin sports bar has not been open for very long, but has already established itself among the premier watering holes Kailua-Kona has to offer.
“When people want to come shoot a game of pool, have a drink and a good time with some friends, the Marlin is the place to go,” co-owner Jeffrey Jax said. “We have got it all here.”
He hopes to translate the bar’s current success into long-term prosperity in a location that has seen multiple bars fail over the years.
The Mad Marlin is on Kaiwi Street in the space that used to be occupied by Rockstarz. It has been transformed by Jax and fellow co-owners Pam Luepkes and Cindy and Paul Duschka.
“It took us almost three months to get this place fixed up,” Jax said. “We all put in the hours. The painting and rebuilding of this place took a long time. It’s a whole new look, and everyone who comes here really likes the environment.”
Jax has a history in the bar industry, having opened two bars in Minnesota. When the opportunity to open the Mad Marlin literally stared him in the face, he couldn’t turn it down.
“We were lucky,” Jax said. “I happened to be standing outside when the locksmith came to re-key the place. I told management I would be interested, and it took a few months, but we got it. A lot of people were standing in line to get this spot. It was the luck of the draw I was standing outside that day.”
The allure of a modern sports bar playing must-watch games on high definition television screens and an affordable drink menu would have many sold; however, the Marlin has much more to offer its patrons.
The kitchen, which offers a selection of items ranging from kalua pork sandwiches to quesadillas, operates from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. on weekdays, and from 7 a.m.-2 a.m. on weekends.
According to Jax, what makes the Marlin a real gem is what lies behind the double doors in the back — a full concert venue.
The newly renovated space boasts a floor that can host up to 256 people in the lower area and 22 in the upper VIP lounge.
Many local bands have been making their rounds at the Marlin on Friday nights, and customers can listen free of a cover charge.
Past incarnations of the bar have hosted artists like Matisyahu, Mos Def and Mickey Avalon.
Mad Marlin is in talks with a music company that will outfit the venue with top-notch equipment so it can host names that will bring crowds out.
“We have developed our own, new crowd that comes around,” Jax said. “People who can drink responsibly, enjoy a good sandwich and have a great time will love the Mad Marlin.”
Email John DeGroote at email@example.com.