By: Alex LaCasse, Seacoast Online
Residents looking to taste some tropical flavor in the dead of winter or enjoy some cold sushi when it’s hot out will soon be able to sample the tastes of Hawaii at Ohana Kitchen right in town.
Owners Jay and Stacy Krecklow are aiming to open their second Ohana Kitchen location on the Seacoast in late September or early October in the Exeter Commons Plaza at 75 Portsmouth Ave., next to On the Vine Marketplace. The couple currently operates a location in Portsmouth at 800 Islington St., which opened in December 2017.
Jay Krecklow said the restaurant specializes in authentic Hawaiian poké bowls and sushi burritos. Poké is a Hawaiian food traditionally served with raw ahi tuna, Maui onion, green onion, sesame oil and soy sauce. He said the restaurant will offer online pickup and delivery orders, in addition to the 20-seat dining room.
Krecklow said several specialty bowls/burritos and a “no limits” poké or a build-your-own option, containing a rice base, a protein, garnishes including sweet onion, mint leaf and sushi staples like edamame; a sauce, fruit and vegetable toppings, and a crunchy accessory, such as garlic crisps. He said for non-sushi fans, cooked proteins such as baby shrimp and local chicken will be available, in addition to raw fish, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices.
“It’s essentially deconstructed sushi,” he said. “Healthy fast food is hard to come by, but we’re really excited to be able to offer this cuisine.”
Krecklow said his quest to bring authentic Hawaiian cuisine to the Seacoast began when his wife worked as a regional manager at Flatbread Company and was invited to go to Hawaii to help open a new franchise in Maui. She said she ended up staying two years on the island and took a hard liking to the poké bowls that were abundant everywhere.
“You can get them at gas stations, supermarkets. Hawaiians eat them every day,” Jay Krecklow said. “Her sister still lives out there so we travel out there practically every year. After a 15-hour travel day, the first thing we do when we get off the plane is stop somewhere for poké.”
Despite the mostly cold-served offerings, Krecklow said he has stayed busy in his Portsmouth location year-round after opening last December.
“We stayed popular through the winter,” Krecklow said. “I think people wanted the tropical feel on cold days. Ohana Kitchen’s mantra is ‘your aloha for the day,’ a little slice of the tropics even if it’s just for a quick meal.”
Krecklow has 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including eight years owning and managing Radici Restaurant in Portsmouth until he sold it in 2015. He said he considers himself a hands-on owner and will continue that tradition at Ohana Kitchen. Krecklow was born in Portsmouth and is a Portsmouth High School and University of New Hampshire graduate. He said he will soon be accepting applications for all positions at the Exeter location and applicants can inquire at www.Ohana.kitchen or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
“Jay and Stacy have brought a very exciting dining concept to the Seacoast,” said Darren Winham, Exeter’s economic development director. “We’re very excited they’ve chosen Exeter to open their second location.”
Stacy said her husband was looking forward to getting involved with their new community, having previously hosted charity events with organizations promoting environmental protection and clean water, such as the Blue Ocean Society.
“Ohana means family in Hawaiian and we’re happy to be in such a great community and having more customers join our ohana,” Stacy said.
Read this article on seacoastonline.com.