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KAUAI : Chris Hemmeter's fantasy island

September 25, 1988|JERRY HULSE | Times Travel Editor

Because Fast Freddy has no liquor license, guests bring their own booze. Meanwhile, Slow Freddy passes out free gardenias that he grows in his garden.

Bring along a snapshot of yourself for the wall and Fast Freddy will discount your bill by 10%. Fast Freddy warns, however, that he operates on Hawaiian time, which is to say if the fish are biting he might lock up and disappear.

Down the road, other islanders gather at the Roxy Diner, which is a lunch counter surrounded by fewer than a dozen tables.

Evening of Music

When I stopped by the other night, a couple of Hawaiians from Niihau, Lani and Isaac Kamahele, played nonstop for a solid two hours. At the lunch counter a white-haired Hawaiian kept time with his knife and fork while a lovely islander serenaded the crowd.

The Roxy is possibly the happiest cafe on Kauai. Posters of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Flash Gordon stare down from the wall and a Coors sign hangs behind the musicians. Kids at the counter sip soft drinks, and tutus with infants in their arms join the audience.

Proprietor Dick Gregg turns out shrimp Provencal, pepper steaks and a chicken dish with mushroom caps, vegetables and Burgundy sauce that would do Chasen's proud.

Meanwhile, the Kamahele brothers from Niihau take requests from diners.

"We do good words with good heart," Isaac said in his pidgin English.

The Roxy was closing. It had been a day to remember, this rediscovery of the old Hawaii, a day that's etched in the mind like the lyrics to a haunting love song, words never to be forgotten, a brief moment that spent itself too quickly but whose memory will remain like the pounding surf and the mists that crown Kauai's magnificent mountains.

It had begun with a stunning sunrise; it ended with a tropical moon whose glow spread across the Pacific to infinity and the darkness beyond.

Note: Developer Chris Hemmeter opened another mega - resort on the Big Island of Hawaii several days ago, which will be reviewed here later this fall.

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