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Old 01-05-2013, 10:03 PM
 
Location: Japan
24 posts, read 74,126 times
Reputation: 23

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Aloha all,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I'll start with a quick bio on myself, my wife, and our three kids. We currently live in central Japan, my wife was born here, but I’m from the Mainland U.S., West coast to be exact. I'm a 32 year old part-time English teacher and wear many other hats for income, including growing a forest garden from which I sell annual and perennial vegetables, herbs and fruit. My wife is a domestic engineer. Our three kids are 6,4, and 1, and we all live in a home on 4/10 of an acre, which is completely paid for. After taxes I make about $31,000 a year and we live very comfortably as frugalites and minimalists. We’ve also got a good amount of savings, mostly in Yen. We are motivated, adaptable and selfless people…

and we are looking at moving to the Big Island, in particular the East side, for a few reasons. 1. We like the mix of people, -- from what we hear -- is 1/3 Asian, 1/3 Caucasian, 1/3 Pacific Islander (including Hawaiian), and we want our children to experience this phenomenon 2. We want to live in a place like Hilo, which is arguably the last of the old-style South Pacific towns in Hawaii, with a lot of charm. 3. We like the laid-back pace of life and spirit of Aloha. 4. We’re interested in the local, fresh, healthy foods and are excited to know that Permaculture there is picking up steam. 5. The East side of the BI has both the cheapest real-estate prices and lowest rent in Hawaii, meaning it’s the only place we’re certain to be able to afford to live. 6. We like the sun, rain, and waves and look forward to the various microclimates of the Big Island, and 7. Last but not least, we want to join the local slow food movement and set up a bistro business that would offer healthful food at a good price, friendly service, and an ambience to talk about. Nothing fancy shmancy, and something along the lines of Plate Lunch or Bento, but of course I can’t say exactly what just now.

For #7 I have a couple questions and would be grateful for any feedback or questions. Where do posters feel such an establishment would succeed in terms of foot accessibility and overall vitality? UH Hilo, down by the bay, up the hill, or somewhere else? These days are the mom-'n-pop family-runs mostly scattered in Hilo, or is there any centrality to it anymore – a promenade of sorts? I did "drive" the town via google street view, but you can only click and zoom so much, and I actually got a flat tire on 11 out around Macy's! Apart from where we locate our bistro, we're also thinking of joining the farmer's markets, as a way to simultaneously pool growers and promote and deliver our foods outside of our fixed location.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

By the way, we are very serious about a move to HI. In fact, two weeks from now we'll be visiting both Hilo and the Puna district to investigate our options there. So any advice prior to our departure would be tremendously helpful and greatly appreciated.

TL;DR To-be transplants from Japan who want to set up a bistro in the Hilo area; seeking advice.

Mahalo,

HIguild

Last edited by HIguild; 01-05-2013 at 11:29 PM..
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:57 PM
 
Location: Volcano
12,971 posts, read 26,710,009 times
Reputation: 10705
Aloha,

I think you'll find that some of your questions sort themselves out once you spend a couple of weeks visiting. Yes, there is some Permaculture on the Big Island, but you'll have to sniff out where it exists, here and there. A couple of my friends who are into it in a big way visited the BI a month ago and spent much of their time at a "sustainability resort" up west of Honakaa. I also know of a few places near Pahoa, and there's an established Permaculture farm near Volcano, owned by a movie star, which has been in operation for years. But it's still a fairly uncommon approach that many are completely unfamiliar with. Probably the most common are the small home-sized aquaculture setups that some use to raise veggies and tilapia to supplement their food supply.

Healthy food business bistro? There have been a lot of restaurant failures in the area the last few years, good places, several with your general description. I hate to sound pessimistic, so I'll give you the optimistic view... I don't think you'll have trouble finding suitable vacant properties.

To be honest, I wouldn't be in any rush to open any business on the Big Island. Spend at least a year learning the area, the culture, the people, the tastes, and the traffic patterns before you even consider such a decision. There's just far too much you don't know until you actually have feet on the ground long term.

Good luck.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:33 AM
 
Location: Japan
24 posts, read 74,126 times
Reputation: 23
OpenD, cheers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
I hate to sound pessimistic, so I'll give you the optimistic view... I don't think you'll have trouble finding suitable vacant properties.
Duly noted. Yeah, google street view and commercial property listings in Hilo has the same to say. The cynic in me says Hilo is sinking like a fat elephant, but the optimist in me says its an opportune place for the same reason, especially for what I have in mind, which is not about making lots of money and depleting the landbase. I want to grow both business and alliances with my neighbors, casually and slowly. But I digress...
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
To be honest, I wouldn't be in any rush to open any business on the Big Island. Spend at least a year learning the area, the culture, the people, the tastes, and the traffic patterns before you even consider such a decision. There's just far too much you don't know until you actually have feet on the ground long term.
I'll take this advice! My original post made it sound like we want to act right now! but in fact our plan for a move takes place three years from the present, and from now until then we'll be figuring out how to get there from here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
There is some Permaculture on the Big Island, but you'll have to sniff out where it exists, here and there. A couple of my friends who are into it in a big way visited the BI a month ago and spent much of their time at a "sustainability resort" up west of Honakaa. I also know of a few places near Pahoa, and there's an established Permaculture farm near Volcano, owned by a movie star, which has been in operation for years. But it's still a fairly uncommon approach that many are completely unfamiliar with. Probably the most common are the small home-sized aquaculture setups that some use to raise veggies and tilapia to supplement their food supply.
Mahalo for this. I'm not a purist and only deal with permies, I'm just glad their numbers are increasing on the BI. The more I learn about permaculture the less I feel like I know! Hey, the Perma-farm near Volcano... are you reffering to the one farmed by Jason Scott Lee? I think he calls it "pume", which means simplicity and nothingness.

Anyway, thanks again,

HIguild

Last edited by HIguild; 01-06-2013 at 02:46 AM..
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Volcano
12,971 posts, read 26,710,009 times
Reputation: 10705
Quote:
Originally Posted by HIguild View Post
OpenD, cheers!


Quote:
Duly noted. Yeah, google street view and commercial property listings in Hilo has the same to say.
Personally I've always liked Kea'u, which is where the road from Hilo splits to go down to Pahoa, or up to Volcano. It's about 7 miles south of Hilo airport, clear of the S Hilo sprawl, an old village and sugar mill town with an interesting history and it is a favored destination if I need anything from a good hardware store or from a supermarket or pharmacy without going into Hilo. And I shop for cheap used tools at the pawn shop, etc. and have hit all the eateries at various times over the last few years, even the plate lunch places over at the Farmers Market. It's been weird seeing places close that seemed to me to be doing OK. Seems to me a few landlords got ahead of themselves on their rental rates.

Quote:
The cynic in me says Hilo is sinking like a fat elephant, but the optimist in me says its an opportune place for the same reason, especially for what I have in mind, which is not about making lots of money and depleting the landbase. I want to grow both business and alliances with my neighbors, casually and slowly. But I digress...
Well, the population is still growing. But the "big box" mentality is wiping out a lot of small businesses and the economy doesn't have a big driver. It's still a farm town to a large degree. But the cruise and tourism business is making a bit of a comeback, etc., and real estate is perking up on the other islands so I feel it's headed this way, and every bit helps.

Quote:
I'll take this advice! My original post made it sound like we want to act right now! but in fact our plan for a move takes place three years from the present, and from now until then we'll be figuring out how to get there from here.
Sounds like a smart move. I'd add... spend as much time as you can here before you move, and do it at different times of the year. Your perspective will shift every time you spend time on the island.

Quote:
Mahalo for this. I'm not a purist and only deal with permies, I'm just glad their numbers are increasing on the BI. The more I learn about permaculture the less I feel like I know!
Same here. I read Mollison and took permaculture workshops a couple of decades ago in Seattle, but my life went in other directions, and today I just garden a manageable sized patch for outdoor exercise and serenity, while augmenting the fresh produce I buy at the Farmer's Market. But it's all fascinating to me.

Quote:
Hey, the Perma-farm near Volcano... are you reffering to the one farmed by Jason Scott Lee? I think he calls it "pume", which means simplicity and nothingness.
Yeah, he's a nabe. There are other folks in the village who have equivalent international reputations in other circles, but he's the best known local resident to the general public.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Puna, Hawaii
3,707 posts, read 3,709,728 times
Reputation: 6424
I spoke to the family who closed up the bakery in Mountain View. Basically they said the Big Island government was so anti-small business they could not longer put up with the expensive, time consuming, and capricious licensing requirements, inspections, etc. It is so bad that most of the small businesses operate unregulated (and technically illegally) by operating under the radar. Where I work there is a plethora of people selling bento out of their vehicles. Free delivery. There is a lot of prepared food sold at the farmer's markets by people who can't navigate the myriad of health codes, regulations, taxes, and beaurocracy a "legal" operation has to deal with. All of these things effect the bottom line.

I encourage you to try- we need more legal, tax-contributing businesses here. Just plan on everything moving at a very slow pace.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:41 PM
 
181 posts, read 554,764 times
Reputation: 186
Your idea of a healthy bistro is great and would be very well received by the community wherever you decided to locate.

As terracore pointed out though, the Federal, State and Hawaii County government bureaucrats will conspire to crush your efforts. These parasites and their regulations will put you out of business no matter how hard you are willing to work. They get their taxpayer funded salaries no matter if they destroy the small businesses in the area or not. I hope that you somehow can speak to the hardworking family that operated the bakery in Mt. View and find out first hand about the nightmare they went through.

Many of the small business you see in town were established long ago before the regulation epidemic started. The owners know the right people and are pretty much left alone. It is the new start ups that are preyed upon.

Whatever kind of business you try to open, stay small, stay away from applying for permits and keep your head down.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:04 PM
 
16,718 posts, read 17,423,410 times
Reputation: 14143
Quote:
Originally Posted by cagary View Post
Your idea of a healthy bistro is great and would be very well received by the community wherever you decided to locate.

As terracore pointed out though, the Federal, State and Hawaii County government bureaucrats will conspire to crush your efforts. These parasites and their regulations will put you out of business no matter how hard you are willing to work. They get their taxpayer funded salaries no matter if they destroy the small businesses in the area or not. I hope that you somehow can speak to the hardworking family that operated the bakery in Mt. View and find out first hand about the nightmare they went through.

Many of the small business you see in town were established long ago before the regulation epidemic started. The owners know the right people and are pretty much left alone. It is the new start ups that are preyed upon.

Whatever kind of business you try to open, stay small, stay away from applying for permits and keep your head down.
are you suggesting the poster break the law? hawaii does not need un permitted businesses. without permits you would see food places that lack sanitary conditions, food trucks and all sorts of vendors lining up along the shore selling crap and bothering folks that just want to go to the beach.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:16 PM
 
181 posts, read 554,764 times
Reputation: 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by hothulamaui View Post
are you suggesting the poster break the law? hawaii does not need un permitted businesses. without permits you would see food places that lack sanitary conditions, food trucks and all sorts of vendors lining up along the shore selling crap and bothering folks that just want to go to the beach.
Don't know what its like on Maui. I haven't been over there in a while.

On the Big Island I've never seen any vendors lining up along the shore selling crap and bothering people. Maybe we go to different beaches, but I've never seen it at Hapuna or any of the east side beaches. Where have you seen this kind of activity?

And what do you mean bothering people? Are they harassing people if they don't buy the "crap" they are selling? I've seen that on Kuta Beach in Bali, but not in Hawaii.

No one is forcing anyone to eat at a food truck. If you think the food is unsafe, don't eat there.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:27 PM
 
16,718 posts, read 17,423,410 times
Reputation: 14143
we have laws and permits for a reason. besides just being a way for the county to get funds. left unregulated we would have lots of folks setting up shop where ever they want, selling what ever they want. without some oversights our beaches and parks would soon look like mexico. with folks walking up and down the beaches with tall apparatus of sun hats, towels and sunglasses. vacation rentals and B&B's people who live in residential areas don't want transient housing next to them. that is why we have zoning. telling someone to forgo permits and just lay low is not good advise
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Japan
24 posts, read 74,126 times
Reputation: 23
OpenD, much appreciated!

Kea'u is just the sort of place we think we want to live, and also Mountain View or maybe Volcano. We will see of course as we visit there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
...and have hit all the eateries at various times over the last few years, even the plate lunch places over at the Farmers Market. It's been weird seeing places close that seemed to me to be doing OK. Seems to me a few landlords got ahead of themselves on their rental rates.
A quick look at Hilo Farmer's Market website says they charge $20 on Wednesdays and $28 on Saturdays for a food both, which seems ridiculously cheap to me - what's the catch? Low turn out?
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
Well, the population is still growing. But the "big box" mentality is wiping out a lot of small businesses and the economy doesn't have a big driver. It's still a farm town to a large degree. But the cruise and tourism business is making a bit of a comeback, etc., and real estate is perking up on the other islands so I feel it's headed this way, and every bit helps.
We reckon the "big box" model is kaput, and it's not a matter of if but when.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
I read Mollison and took permaculture workshops a couple of decades ago in Seattle, but my life went in other directions, and today I just garden a manageable sized patch for outdoor exercise and serenity, while augmenting the fresh produce I buy at the Farmer's Market. But it's all fascinating to me.
Permaculture is HUGE in Japan, alas in small circles, but actually much of horticulture endemic to Japan is permaculture on steroids. Here it used to be, and still is to a degree, in the Satoyama (where the valley's and forest meet). I've been at it here for about 8 years, with ducks to boot! Fascinating to me, too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
Yeah, he's a nabe. There are other folks in the village who have equivalent international reputations in other circles, but he's the best known local resident to the general public.
Got it! Years ago somebody linked me to his "pono living" video on YouTube. It's actually what got me thinking about the Big Island.

Hi terracore,

Quote:
Originally Posted by terracore View Post
...they could not longer put up with the expensive, time consuming, and capricious licensing requirements, inspections, etc.
Ouch. Hope those folks were OK in the end.
Quote:
Originally Posted by terracore View Post
It is so bad that most of the small businesses operate unregulated (and technically illegally) by operating under the radar. Where I work there is a plethora of people selling bento out of their vehicles. Free delivery. There is a lot of prepared food sold at the farmer's markets by people who can't navigate the myriad of health codes, regulations, taxes, and beaurocracy a "legal" operation has to deal with. All of these things effect the bottom line.
If the bottom line is money, then that won't be ours. I know how naive that sounds but let's face it people are working on very thin margins, including me, but I think what's important to ponder are the types of margins that most businesses operate on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by terracore View Post
I encourage you to try- we need more legal, tax-contributing businesses here. Just plan on everything moving at a very slow pace.
Slow is what I know, I think.

Hi cagary,
Quote:
Originally Posted by cagary View Post
Your idea of a healthy bistro is great and would be very well received by the community wherever you decided to locate.
Well received, awesome! Easily accessible, whereabouts do you reckon? I mean, along 11 or no game, or do folks on the East side go the extra mile (literally) for a good bite to eat?
Quote:
Originally Posted by cagary View Post
As terracore pointed out though, the Federal, State and Hawaii County government bureaucrats will conspire to crush your efforts. These parasites and their regulations will put you out of business no matter how hard you are willing to work. They get their taxpayer funded salaries no matter if they destroy the small businesses in the area or not.
Yikes. Seriously.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cagary View Post
Many of the small business you see in town were established long ago before the regulation epidemic started. The owners know the right people and are pretty much left alone. It is the new start ups that are preyed upon.
Noted, thanks!

hothulsmaui, thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hothulamaui View Post
are you suggesting the poster break the law? hawaii does not need un permitted businesses. without permits you would see food places that lack sanitary conditions, food trucks and all sorts of vendors lining up along the shore selling crap and bothering folks that just want to go to the beach.
Well I won't be beach crashing and saying Hey! Look at me!, that's for sure.

Cheers all,

HIguild
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