Grabbing a drive-through lunch or dinner in Juneau doesn’t necessarily mean heading to a chain fast food restaurant, or getting mass-produced fare. In fact, there’s only one traditional drive-through fast food chain left in town, and it has golden arches.
Kona’s Pacific Rim Grill in Lemon Creek, by contrast, is a family-owned drive-through and the food harkens back to another Juneau business that once served-up prized teriyaki creations.
Kona’s is the long-awaited return of Filipe’s Teriyaki, once a successful food cart near the Red Dog Saloon.
Owner Felipe Ogoy and his father (and Kona’s manager) Chuck Van Kirk opened the drive-through restaurant on April 1.
Ogoy is the supervisor at Bartlett Hospital foodservice. He also teaches a culinary class at the Johnson Youth Center. In his free time, Ogoy said, he thought about ideas to create extra income. Van Kirk was retired and looking to supplement his finances.
“Something that we can do together,” Ogoy said.
“That did really well,” Ogoy said of the food cart. “I got a customer base there.”
A customer base that missed Filipe’s when it closed after its final season in 2005.
“Over the years people were always encouraging me that I should open a teriyaki place.”
Thus was born Kona’s Pacific Rim Grill — a drive-through, pick up grill.
Drive through and take out
“I like the drive-through operation,” Ogoy said.
The location, in a lot along Anka Street near the Alaska Brewing Co. on the way to Costco and Home Depot, once housed a coffee cart.
“People still come through looking for coffee, but we don’t sell coffee,” Ogoy said.
People confuse Kona in the name for the coffee. Ogoy’s son is named Kona.
The rest of the name “just kind of clicked,” Ogoy said.
Up until recently Lemon Creek did not have many food choices, Ogoy said.
“So having this place and (the Cuban food vendor People’s Place) is really good for the area,” Ogoy said.
In a hurry for lunch? Ogoy recommends the chicken teriyaki. Kona’s has several orders ready to go, he said. The beef takes a bit longer to grill.
The macaroni is ready to go no matter what the order, Ogoy said. Yes, macaroni and teriyaki.
“In Hawaii, the mixed grill … there is always rice and macaroni with teriyaki,” Ogoy said. “It goes with the Kona name.”
“The mixed grill is probably our No. 1 seller, it is more of a dinner-sized portion,” Ogoy said. “It’s a pretty hefty meal.”
However, the Pacific Rim theme gives Ogoy a lot of freedom with his menu, Ogoy said.
“If you just want salads, you can order just salads,” Ogoy said.
Teriyaki originated in Japan on hibachi grills, Ogoy said. Its main ingredients are sake, fresh ginger and soy sauce, he said. The meat is marinated and grilled on a barbecue grill.
“We try to cook it as fresh as possible, Ogoy said. “That is why sometimes it may take a little bit, but we want to keep it fresh.”
Variety of prices, quantities of food
Ogoy has worked in food service for years in Juneau, he said. He got the idea for Filipe’s Teriyaki while laid up with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“I was bored to death,” Ogoy said. He said he was looking through a newspaper and saw a food cart for sale.
Teriyaki was a good seller at Ogoy’s Seward Street restaurant, Café Myriad, Ogoy said.
“The first internet café in Juneau at the time,” Ogoy said.
The café didn’t last. “It was just too ahead of the game,” Ogoy said.
Ogoy said he took his teriyaki recipe and found a spot for his cart downtown though Chuck King.
“He gave me my first spot downtown,” Ogoy said.
On top of owning restaurants, Ogoy has worked as the manager and chef at the Red Dog Saloon, managed catering at the Prospector Hotel and worked at the Wild Spice Mongolian Grill and “the old Mike’s Place,” Ogoy said. “Main thing, I like to work with the kids at JYC,”
Kona’s dishes cost around nine or 10 dollars, double the meat for an additional $5. Half orders cost as little as $5 and a single burger goes for $3.50. Full orders of beef or chicken come with a choice of macaroni salad or green salad.
Kona’s hours are split. This summer expect to find Ogoy or Van Kirk manning the grill from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. Saturday, the shop is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s closed Sunday.
Kona’s offers pick-up service. For more information call 789-5662 (KONA).
• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.