Fire Blazes Through Pahoa

Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant and Akebono Theater in ashes

Assistant Editor-in-Chief Aspen Mauch

Photos courtesy of Ryan Finlay and Luquin’s

Pahoa Fire

During the early hours of the morning on Monday, Jan. 16, firefighters responded to a fire on Pahoa Valley Road. The fire blazed through and destroyed several businesses and apartment units, including the historic Akebono Theater as well as the beloved Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant. Although no one was injured, the fire burned a hole through the heart of Pāhoa’s community. The Akebono Theater was built around 1919, making it one of the oldest theaters in Hawai‘i; it was the site of numerous dramas, private parties, shows, seminars, and concerts. As a center that held close to 100 years of memories, residents feel that the loss of such an historic building send a chilling effect throughout the entire community. Although the cause of the fire is still being investigated, there is currently no evidence of foul play suspected.

Fire Damages

For the Luquin family, this turn of events has been especially challenging. The family, who owned both Akebono Theater and Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant, have been feeding and serving Pāhoa since the restaurant opened back in 1984. Even during the 2014 Kīlauea lava flow that threatened Pāhoa’s community and forced dozens of residents to evacuate - not to mention even more businesses and schools, which had to temporarily close - Luquin’s stayed open throughout the ordeal. Although the family and staff are reportedly shocked and devastated by the fire, they aren’t quite ready to call it quits yet - already, they have hinted at plans to rebuild the restaurant.

If you would like to support or donate to the rebuilding of Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant and Akebono Theater, visit the Luquin’s family gofundme page at