Saketumi opening in Hawaii |

Saketumi opening in Hawaii

Steamboat Springs sushi specialists setting up shop on Kona island

Mike Lawrence

Three Steamboat locals, Kier Delaney, from left, Kris Cannon and Akira Hasegawa, catch a sunset on the shores of Kona, Hawaii, where Delaney is opening Saketumi Kona, a sister restaurant to Saketumi Steamboat. Cannon will be the restaurant's general manager, and Hasegawa will be a sushi chef. Delaney said he is shooting for a New Year's Eve opening.

From three time zones away, the excitement is clearly audible in Kier Delaney's voice.

"It's beautiful here," Delaney said last week from Kona, Hawaii. "I'm walking around in flip-flops, and it's hot even in the shade."

For Routt County residents just settling into winter, the thought of ocean breezes and sandals might already be alluring. It certainly was for Delaney and a few other Steamboat Springs transplants who are putting the finishing touches on Saketumi Kona, a sister restaurant to Delaney's Saketumi Steamboat. Delaney said the new restaurant could open by New Year's Eve.

He's already speaking the language.

"It's an exciting project for everyone from mauka (the mountains) to makai (the sea)," Delaney said about the restaurant, throwing in a little Hawaiian vernacular. "I may have been born in Indiana, but my soul has always been connected to the sea."

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Delaney said he got the idea for expanding to Hawaii in February during a visit to Kona — the Big Island — for his 40th birthday. The visit made him realize there could be a niche for a restaurant that combines great food with great service, catering to locals with a lively, welcoming atmosphere.

Similar to Saketumi Steamboat at the base of Steamboat Ski Area in Torian Plum Plaza, Delaney said the Kona restaurant has water features and an energetic ambiance. The interior of Saketumi Kona features a tiger shark carved out of lava rock and a screen for fishing, surfing and diving videos, he said.

Delaney said he went through 150 applications to fill four server spots to find just the right staff. He also imported former Steamboat Springs residents Kris Cannon and Akira Hasegawa. Cannon will be the restaurant's general manager, and Hasegawa, a former sushi chef at Saketumi Steamboat, will continue that role in Kona.

Hasegawa joins a culinary staff that includes executive chef Adam Condon, formerly of Four Seasons Resort in Maui; and experienced head sushi chef Justin Lopes.

Delaney said he originally planned to open the Kona restaurant in October, but hurdles that he described as "restaurant boot camp" delayed the project.

"It's finally at the point where it's getting exciting because it's finally happening," he said last week. "What a way to start the new year."

Delaney said the new restaurant could not have happened without the help of his brother, Eric Delaney, who manages the Steamboat restaurant, and his girlfriend Mo Morrissey, who he said often mentioned during cold winters "how much easier it is to go to the beach" than put on ski gear.

Delaney said Morrissey's comments inspired him to take on the challenge of a new restaurant in Kona, which fit with his lifelong desire for island living and long love of the Pacific Ocean and Hawaiian culture.

Delaney said he's not sure if he's moving to Kona full time and that he always will call Steamboat Springs home.

But five years after opening Saketumi Steamboat, Delaney is loving the new slice of life.

And yes, he's learned to surf.

"If you want to do something you better get to it, because tomorrow isn't guaranteed, and life is meant to be lived," he said.

Aloha, Saketumi Kona

Some facts about the new sister restaurant to Saketumi Steamboat

Address: Saketumi Kona, King Kamehameha Mall, 75-5626 Kuakini Highway, Suite 1, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740

Phone: 808-326-SAKE

General Manager: Recently transplanted Steamboat resident Kris Cannon

Sushi chef: Akira Hasegawa, a former Steamboat resident and Saketumi Steamboat sushi chef, joins a staff of sushi chefs at the Kona restaurant

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