The Blue Dragon Rises!
For almost three years “the Dragon” lay in hibernation while ships come and go. The Blue Dragon Tavern & Cosmic Musiquarium across from Kawaihae Harbor opens Sept. 28 and is designed to enhance the connection to community and again “Feed Your Soul.”
Offering live music, dancing, concerts, and events plus a new full casual-fare dinner menu with reasonable price points, local brews and house-crafted cocktails island residents and visitors can enjoy family-friendly fun and fresh meals nightly Wednesdays through Sundays. Lorenzo’s Army kicks off opening night this eve, doors open at 5 p.m., the show is 7 p.m.-10 p.m. ($10 at the door) and open till 11:00 p.m., John Keawe plays Sunday, Sept. 29, 6:30-9:30, $5 at the door. Next week Oct. 2 Wednesday is Miki’ala, Thursday, Oct. 3 Mila, Friday the Oct. 4, Johnny Shot, Saturday, Oct. 5, DJ Maylan, and Sunday, Oct. 6, Nino Ka’ai.
“Evenings at the Blue Dragon are absolutely magical,” co-owner Delphina Dorrance says. “Once you walk through the doors you are right back outside again, so overhead is a canopy of palms, sunset colors during happy hour, and then the evening performance and dinner are accompanied by the night sky.”
The Blue Dragon is a project by 1Heart, Delphina, and Bennett Dorrance’s new parent company which helps steward community-minded, purpose-driven properties and initiatives that cultivate the health and well-being of people and planet through food, arts, culture, and ecology.
“We want to make our decisions with heart,” shares co-owner Bennett, who is currently completing a graduate course in executive sustainability leadership. “For us, this means aligning with nature and land; we’re guided by the principles of sustainability and our vision is to support ongoing well-being for Kohala.”
Local Food and Farms
Blue Dragon Tavern further strengthens 1Hearts’ commitment to providing support for local food and farms in ecologically-minded ways: house-made pupus, dinners, and desserts come mostly from ingredients of island farms & fishing operations including Sunrise Farms, Kohala Organic, Sage Farms and the Kohala Mountain Fish Company, a sustainably designed on-land tilapia farm also co-managed by Bennett Dorrance.
The Tavern side of the project is run by GM Jason Sessions who recently returned to the island after 9 years on Kauai as Food and Beverage Director at the Westin in Princeville. The cuisine is presented by Chefs Craig Sharp and Carter Ciu and includes some HUB PUB top-sellers (burger, fish and chips, Caesar salad), new Dragon Balls, fish tacos, and several plant-based options. Guests will eat off of compostable wares which will go back to the family Dragon Heart Farm and turned into worm food, then nutritious soil and fertilizers that then feed the fruit orchard which ends up in the cocktail syrups and the meals. Innovative water-saving techniques include less dishwashing, the kitchens chemical-free specialized steam cleaning, and an innovative men’s urinal with zero water usage.
To help the mission of supporting island artists a varying nightly admission will directly feed into the production end of the “musiquarium” side of the club. The Musiquarium’s evening entertainment is booking up fast from now through February with owner Delphina Dorrance as the artistic director. George Webb Sound will be providing high-quality audio/ visual expertise. Entertainment will include eclectic and varied island musical acts, from Kohala’s own Grammy award-winning slack key guitarist John Keawe and other island-style favorites such as Nino Ka’ai, Tani Kaneao, Miki’ala, Mila, and North Shore Live. Friday and Saturdays have a dance-forward focus featuring rock, blues, funk, pop, country, or salsa with acts like well-followed Lorenzo’s Army, Johnny Shot, Salsa Latinos, and the Tomi Isobe Blues Band. Featured up-and coming-artists include Lucky Tongue, Sweet Misery, Drew Daniels Band, and DJ Maylan. Jazz acts booked so far are the Sarah Bethany Trio, Kukuau Jazz with Bub Pratt, Redwater Trio, the Castaways, and the Tin Pan Alley Cats.
Blue Dragon’s History
Back in 2016 during a jazz cabaret evening, the Blue Dragon experienced a sinkhole in the parking lot which led to what was expected to be a temporary closure. Designing and permitting the new underground system had multiple layers of obstacles to work through so the team also focused on offering a new venue to the community at the Kohala Village HUB. Manager Chris Scelza joined the team and helped the HUB PUB become a Kohala family-friendly staple, and then a “no-fault electrical” fire destroyed the Dorrance’s second restaurant in mid-March, 2019. While estimated to be two years for the HUB PUB rebuild, Kohala Village HUB INN reservations for rooms and suites, HUB learning center classes, programs, and campus rentals continue at the nearly six-acre Kohala Village HUB in the heart of downtown Hawi, Hawaii.
Alongside the business office and sound tech room on the second story of the Blue Dragon, Blue Dragon Bodywork has remained opened to date offers therapeutic “massage with aloha” to many repeat locals and tourists alike. Its new sister establishment is now open along Hawi town’s main street and is the HUB’s Kohala Village Bodywork; find more info and book online for each at kohalamassage.com.
“As soon as the HUB PUB fire settled, we knew we had to continue to provide community gathering space, local farm and business support, and especially employment for our team, so knew it was time to awaken the Blue Dragon and open Kohala Village Bodywork” says Delphina. This weekend is the culmination of what turned into six months of county compliance and permitting to reopen the Blue Dragon and “we just got the demo permit for the HUB PUB old Luke’s building a few days ago” adds Property Operations Manager Brain Kangas.
Hour of Operation
Blue Dragon hours of operation are Wednesdays-Sundays 5:00 p.m.-till close (10 or 11:00 p.m.) with the entertainment and door charge starting between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m, and regular happy hours from 5-6 and 10-11 p.m. No reservations at this time. A full entertainment calendar with newsletter sign-up link will be available at the Blue Dragon’s new website set to be live within the next couple of weeks, and you can always follow the Dragon on Facebook at: FB.com/BlueDragonHawaii