By PETER SUR
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Zippy’s Restaurants, the popular Honolulu-based purveyor of late-night chili and saimin, is finally coming to the Big Island. But fans of the franchise will have to wait one more year.
Representatives from the company confirmed Thursday that a restaurant will open next summer in Prince Kuhio Plaza, in an area of the food court.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to serve Hilo and to provide its residents with all of their Zippy’s favorites,” President Paul Yokota said in a statement that was posted on Facebook. “We also look forward to joining and supporting the community by offering employment opportunities and supporting Hilo’s businesses and organizations.” Responses to the announcement were strongly positive, although most of the comments were from former Hawaii residents asking if a restaurant could be opened on the mainland.
While most of the chain’s restaurants are open 24 hours, Marketing Manager Jeanine Mamiya-Kalahiki couldn’t say if that will be the case.
“We’re still in the planning stage,” Mamiya-Kalahiki said.
“Zippy’s space will include three vacant spaces and two occupied spaces in the food court,” General Manager Kimberly Shimabuku said in an email. “We are working with our current tenants on relocation.”
The Hilo restaurant will include a fast food counter, a dine-in restaurant, and a Napoleon’s Bakery, including its Hot & Fresh operation, specializing in “made to order” malasadas, the company said.
Zippy’s was founded in 1966 by brothers Francis and Charles Higa and has grown to 24 restaurants on Oahu with one on Maui.
The chain’s signature product is its chili, which has been available for some time in frozen packages at KTA Super Stores. Zippys boasts on its website that it sells 110 tons of the dish every month through restaurants, fundraisers and retail stores.
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