LYNNWOOD, wash. – The first thing Bobby Nakihei and his wife Diana noticed when they moved to Lynnwood from Honolulu was how hard it was to find an authentic Hawaiian restaurant or kitchen to grow up with.
In 1989, the year they moved, there were only a few Hawaiian restaurants in the area, but a palpable need for the kitchen. So the couple decided to open their own. The result was Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant, which opened in 2000 and has been in business ever since.
The mission statement is: “At Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant, we offer food of excellent quality and invite you to try our delicious dishes. The key to our success is simple: providing high quality food that tastes great every time. We pride ourselves on serving delicious real dishes to our customers. Eat delicious food. Have a drink. But above all: relax! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support. ”
The family business previously had locations in Kent, Highway 99 and Everett in the Comcast Arena, but after Bobby underwent a heart and kidney transplant, the Nakiheis decided to “slow down” and focus on managing one location – Lynnwood.
Bobby has years of culinary experience, attended cooking school and owned several bakeries in Hawaii before opening his restaurant.
Their affiliated candy store, Goody Goody Corner, which specializes in selling cakes, sweets and pastries from the islands, closed this February due to losses from the COVID shutdown.
Lau Lau platter
Robert “Role” Jr. (42) and Psalms (35), Nakihei’s son and daughter, both work in the restaurant with the hope of one day taking it over. Robert has gone through many career changes over the years, including poker in casinos, and has only been in the family business for a few years, but Psalms has been with us since day one.
“There are a lot of Pacific islanders in the Tacoma area, in the Kent area, in Seattle, Federal Way, but we’re number one in the north of the Seattle area, and that region has always grown for us. We have been in business for twenty-one years now and it’s pretty exciting to see more and more Pacific Islanders come to the Lynnwood area, ”said Diana Nakihei.
According to areaconnect.com, a website dedicated to population and demographic statistics, the Lynnwood town’s population of Native Hawaiians or other Pacific islanders is just 0.4%. The Nakihei Lynnwood family chose all other Washington cities as home because of their love for the area, apart from the small population of the Pacific Islanders.
“This area is absolutely beautiful. You have Mukilteo by your side, you have Everett, easy access to the east side – that’s Bellevue. The Lynnwood area is so beautiful. They have the best of the best in the surrounding communities, ”said Nakihei.
The Nakihei family help the Lynnwood ward whenever they can. They help schools with donations and house luaus that are “surrounded by food”. They make music, hula dancers, musicians and offer food in a way that you would experience in an authentic luau from their home state.
“We may not be in the islands, but it’s still in our hearts so we’re still celebrating it. This is culturally important to us. As for the restaurant – when you walk into our restaurant you feel like you have just stepped off the plane [in Hawaii]“Said Nakihei.
Bobby’s Hawaii Style Restaurant in Lynnwood is more atmospheric than a typical Hawaiian restaurant, according to Nakihei, for many hours steamed, and the “true way of making” stuck.
“Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth time you walk into our restaurant, we want to make sure you feel the aloha spirit – the love and food that underpin it,” said Nakihei.
Even the decoration, from the hanging Kanaka Maoli, Hawaii’s native flag, to authentic decorations, is said to be the decoration that many native islanders would have in their own homes.
“If you’re from Hawaii, you want it to feel at home,” said Nakihei.
According to Nakihei, many of their competitors are not owned by Native Hawaiians who trade as “Hawaiian”, but everything they do at Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant is “authentic.”
Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant was featured twice on the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show by restaurateur and television personality Guy Fieri. Once in 2007 and again in 2018 to follow up and be featured on the Food Network. Business soared after the televised broadcast, but last year’s COVID shutdown decimated the business with a 41% loss.
Bobby Nakihei and his wife Diana.
Since reopening, Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant has been offering a delivery and collection service with personal deliveries via Gloria Groceries online and is on the way to recovery. They are currently fully occupied again.
“Both my husband and I are actually Hawaiians. Not only do we serve Hawaiian food, we’re actually Hawaiian too. And it is a pleasure for us that we have the opportunity to share our culture, our food, with people. And I appreciate that, and I appreciate our customers. Going through what we went through last year … it was hard. But I really appreciate the fact that our community supports us and keeps coming back, ”said Diana.
OpenStreetMap snapshot of the location of Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant.
While in Lynnwood, visit Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant at 14626 Hwy 99 Suite 101. To view the menu or place an order, visit www.bobbyshawaiianstylerestaurant.com or call 425-259-1338.