Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hilo Bay Front

This is not a normal dining experience blog post. Today, I helped two other people walk into every single store and restaurant along the Hilo, Hawaii bay front. We were handing out a piece of paper with basic sign language signs on it in preparation for the deaf cruise ship that will arrive next Saturday. I am writing this because of a few "dining" experiences I had throughout the day.

First, I want to say that for the most part the store owners along Hilo Bay Front were gracious and excited that someone cared enough to prepare them for this upcoming visit. After all, Hilo is heavily dependent on tourism and our goal was to make Hilo the most deaf-friendly city in Hawaii. We want visitors next Saturday to go back to the mainland or Canada and tell people what a special place Hilo is. We were very sensitive to how busy people were and tried to spend a very limited amount of time telling them about the upcoming cruise, and hand them a piece of paper, and if they had time, teach them a couple of easy signs. Overall, it was well met, and people were anxious to learn.

The most positive of those experiences was at Wilson's By the Bay. This is a small ice cream and shaved ice store. The woman there was so appreciative of what we were trying to do she offered us complimentary shaved ice. Living in Hawaii I've had a lot of shaved ice, but I have to tell you, this was no ordinary shaved ice. First, the ice was finely shaved and well-packed. The syrups were very nice, but then the crowning glory is the cream poured over the top. It took a good shaved ice and made it a memorable experience. It's not often that something as common as shaved ice in Hawaii becomes a memorable experience. So, Wilson's by the Bay was not only the friendliest of places, but also served a truly memorable product. If you are on the Bay Front you HAVE TO STOP HERE. This is a must experience.

We ate lunch at Reuben's Mexican Food restaurant. This is always an iffy experience. Most of the people I know won't eat there. But, I am a fiend for Mexican food, good, bad, or indifferent. So, I made the decision of where to eat by offering to pay. I had the carnitas torta, which was surprisingly nice. The bread was authentic torta bread, and the pork was done nicely. My friend had the chipotle chicken torta and liked it as well, and my other friend had the cheese enchiladas. That is normally my staple at Reuben's because it's hard to get cheese, tortillas and enchilada sauce terribly wrong. I've never gotten sick from the food here and the taste is ok, which is a lot more than I can say about other Mexican food experiences I've had in the past in Hilo. Luckily, those places no longer exist.

Walking back to our car we realized we had missed one place because it didn't open until 11am, that was Cronies. Now, I don't eat here very often because it's kind of a sports bar, and that is usually not a draw for me, but when I did it's because their hamburgers are pretty decent. So, I went in to give them the sign paper and tell them about the cruise. It wasn't too busy, but I headed for the bartender so as not to bother the waitresses. I laid the paper on the bar and said, "There is a cruise ship coming next Saturday with about 350 deaf people." In the next instant, a woman wearing both a black person and a personality to match, swooped down on me trying to get me away from the bar telling me the bartender was busy and that she was the manager and if I had any "questions" I should speak with her. And believe me, she was not telling me this because she wanted to "answer my questions." This was the most unfriendly experience I've had in a long time in any place that serves food, was completely uncalled for, and in my mind, a black eye on the wonderful aloha we experienced along the Bay Front. You won't find me reporting any further on Cronies because with all the other places to get a burger, I certainly don't need to go where I'm not wanted. In the future I will be posting suggestions for good burgers in Hilo so if you feel you want to go to a place where you're not likely to get mistreated, you might want to try one of the alternatives. Hilo Burger Joint isn't a bad alternative to Cronies. Of course the best hamburger on the entire island can be found at Village Burger in Kamuela, (Waimea) in the shopping center food court, but we can save that review for another post.

Happy eating and aloha to all the people who were wonderful to us today. And a special thanks to Wilson's By the Bay.

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