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MKAEC galactic salad bar and restaurant to launch this summer

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Date: Friday, January 7, 2005
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The construction of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center is progressing on schedule. Its general building construction is past the 70 percent mark and is scheduled for completion and dedication in early July 2005. A restaurant vendor has also been selected, with plans to open for business around that time as well.

Ric and Debra Maiava, managers of Ken’s House of Pancakes, will partner with the Center and open under a new restaurant name. The restaurant will be located in the Mauna Loa cone and will begin with breakfast and lunch menus, quickly transitioning into serving dinners. Restaurant hours will be 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. once in full operation. Menu items will have astronomical names, tying in with Polynesian navigation or bridging science and culture, like the Center itself.

“Not only will having the spirit of Ken’s bring excitement and energy to our new Center, but the possibilities of internships and special programs for our college students as well as special events for the community, which include food service, are limitless,” said MKAEC Director Marlene Hapai. “We are so happy the Maiavas were willing to step up to the plate and take this risk along with us. This Center is a new venture with much potential and it takes risk takers who can see that potential to go for it.”

MKAEC, a $28 million project funded by NASA and championed by Senator Daniel K. Inouye and UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng, began construction in June 2004 and is scheduled for its grand opening in November of 2005 once its planetarium and exhibit hall are fully operational. Although construction has been fully funded, like all other science centers nationwide, it will depend on public and private funding as well as its own revenues to operate. Margaret Shiba, director of development for UH Hilo and the University of Hawai`i Foundation, is actively working with and on behalf of the Center to raise funds for these purposes. Anyone interested in individual or corporate contributions or naming opportunities is encouraged to contact Shiba at 933-3112 or the Center at 933-3916.

The MKAEC restaurant review and recommendation committee included Derek Kurisu, KTA Superstores, Dr. Keith Meiser, Judith Fox-Goldstein, Audrey Furukawa (MKAEC Restaurant Committee Chair), Chong Gu and Dr. Marlene Hapai, UH Hilo, and Carol VanCamp, Prince Kuhio Plaza.

“I want to thank the members of the committee for lending their time, effort and expertise in making this selection,” said Tseng. “This project is an example of a great partnership in which all the parties are working together with the common goal of creating a world-class facility that will benefit the entire community.”

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