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A Night Out in Historic Honoka‘a

August 26, 2010
Honokaa Peoples Theatre

The People's Theatre - the grande dame of Honoka'a

Last night, I had an opportunity to drive to Honoka‘a, a small town on the Big Island’s Hamakua coast, to meet a friend for dinner at Cafe Il Mondo and to go to a movie for the first time at the Honoka‘a People’s Theatre.

I was in love with the theatre from the second we walked through the doors.

This is one of those places where the decor and the atmosphere instantly transport you back in time and you can imagine–even if only fleetingly–what it must have been like to live in a world where Twitter, Facebook, mobile browsers and the social web had not even been conceived of.  (That’s before you remember to silence your cell phone before the movie begins, of course.)

The People’s Theatre has a colorful history, paralleling the rise and fall of the sugar industry in Hawaii.  The theatre’s website says this:

In 1930, the bustling little plantation town of Honokaa was the biggest and most happening town on the island outside of Hilo….Along with mutliple bakeries, barbers, pool halls and saloons, the town had 3 large theatres, the biggest of which was built in that year of 1930. The grand dame of Honokaa, the Honokaa Peoples Theatre, was built by the Tanimoto family, who owned several theatres throughout the island. The 525 seat movie house was packed regularly, as the height of the silver screen era brought Hollywood glamour as well as international films to entertain the multicultural audience, including regular Japanese , Portuguese, Philipino and Spanish language films.

I’ll be having dinner at Cafe Il Mondo (which, by the way, is cash only and BYOB!)  and catching a movie–maybe Eat, Pray, Love?– at the People’s Theater again very soon!

Read the Yelp reviews for Cafe Il Mondo – they have an impressive 4 1/2 stars!

Cafe Il Mondo Honokaa

Cafe Il Mondo in Honokaa has great reviews - Now I know why!

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