TWIN FALLS — A new Twin Falls restaurant is serving up a taste of Hawaii.
Nick Hansen and Lanelle King opened Blue Island Grill Aug. 15 on Falls Avenue.
The couple, originally from Salt Lake City, moved to Twin Falls one-and-a-half years ago from Portland.
Hansen — who has about 15 years of experience in the food-management industry — said he started in a management job at Chobani but was let go six months later. King’s background is in customer service.
Hansen and King enjoy the Twin Falls area and wanted to figure out a way to stay.
“We really like it here,” Hansen said. It’s their first experience living in a small town, he added, and they enjoy the friendly people.
They don’t have a background in cooking but wanted to open a restaurant with their friends, who are from Hawaii.
But their friends ended up moving back to Salt Lake City. Hansen and King decided to take up the venture on their own.
“We’ve been planning this for over a year,” King said, and used their savings to open the restaurant.
In April, their plans materialized and they started remodeling the restaurant building. It was in bad shape, King said, so it was a floor-to-ceiling project.
The restaurant’s walls are painted lively shades of green and blue, and one wall is a chalkboard where visitors can show their creative side.
The tables also have a chalkboard surface customers can draw on.
The menu at Blue Island Grill offers chicken and steak. Burger choices include the “Big Island Burger,” with a one-third pound hamburger patty.
“It’s a really big burger,” King said. They crafted the recipe at home and decided to include it on the menu.
Other burger options include a “Kalua Pigwich,” fish burger and teriyaki burger.
Hamburger patties are made on site at the restaurant.
“My belief is with a good hamburger, you can eat the meat alone,” Hansen said.
Other menu offerings include mix plates with different choices of meat, served with macaroni salad and rice.
And there’s a poke bowl. “Basically, it’s a deconstructed sushi bowl,” Hansen said.
The poke bowl concept has caught on in big cities, he said, and he wanted to bring it to Twin Falls as something different for the area.
Blue Island Grill also offers specials such as a Mahi melt. And there’s a traditional Tongan fruit drink.
The restaurant has a kids’ menu and one of the beverage options is “Ocean Water.” It’s a flavored drink with Swedish Fish candy in it.
The couple experiments with food ideas that may become future menu items. “Cooking can be an art,” Hansen said.
They want to introduce customers to different cuisine and get them outside their comfort zones.
And they don’t want to limit menu offerings to Hawaiian food but offer an Asian fusion as well.
Blue Island Grill offers a 25 percent military discount. “We have strong ties to the military,” Hansen said.
It also offers 10 percent discount for seniors and students. And since the restaurant is close to the College of Southern Idaho, there’s a CSI night on Tuesdays.
Students with a CSI identification card can receive a free fountain drink. The restaurant also offers free WiFi.