Kevin I, aka Kevin Iwamoto, has formally retired but no doubt will be busier than ever.

Most retirees have hectic, fruitful, and yes, busy lives when they make the plunge. It’s normally because you decide, when you get up in the morning, what you’ll do. You’ll elect to focus on retiree choices: tend to the garden, take more trips, schedule occasional lunches or dinners with friends and family. Or not. You can do absolutely nothing.

A pal from back in the day, Kevin was a recording artist and frequent singer, at local clubs and venues. We’ve known each other for decades – five? six? —when we both young, green and eager to make a difference in our chosen fields.

Kevin’s had many jobs, spanning a spectrum of successes, moving up the business ladder after ending his performance career. It’s not so much that he feared not finding a performing job, but another option – in his case, aspects of business – would be a better foundation.

Me, I prevailed in one and only occupation – a journalist, a reporter, a critic, a columnist – as if my needle was stuck on the record player. Boring, perhaps, but filled with some opportunities but loaded with memories.

Kevin, of course, has had a luminous career and was, and still is, an active voice in the corporate travel industry. Why not? He earned his stripes at TIM, the University of Hawaii’s fabled Travel Industry Management program of the Business College, and he rocked and rocketed, from a Hawaiian Airlines employee to the Bizly biggie, where he was chief strategy officer and head of enterprise. When he retired a few weeks back,  he emerged – when you look back – to be one of the sparkplugs of the corporate travel industry for 35 years. He’ll continue to advocate for the biz travel community, consulting and speaking, as he’s done throughout his career.

Those in the biz world, who worked with and knew Kevin, will attest to his generosity of time and skills, during various facets of his growth as a corporate leader.

Business Travel News named Kevin Travel Manager of the Year in 2001 for accomplishments at Hewett-Packard, and he was named an Industry Icon in 2009, by the National Business Assn. now known as the Global Business Travel Association.

He’s authored books  and  was a prolific blogger for a network of travel biz followers, but he’s not forgotten his Hawaii roots, providing TIM scholarships for UH biz students.

In the past year, his entertainment career made a comeback of sorts, when his vintage vocals became a minor sensation in downloads with surprising sales and response from a network of new fans discovering his ‘80s music. Better late than never.

Ironically, he kept a stash of long-playing vinyl records for years, but discarded a bundle of ‘em when clearing out storage space in Hawaii, a miscue since the discs are  now out of print.

I’ve not traveled with him, but Kevin has frequently met me and my wife  in New York, to do a few touristy things, and we’ve gone to Broadway shows together. In  the summer of 2019, when we took in “Hamilton” together we got to explore the onstage set after the performance. (Those visits were halted because of the pandemic).

We’re hoping to find a mutually workable date this year, to meet up in New York again. And here’s a morsel most folks won’t know about Kevin. He probably doesn’t remember, too,  but he was briefly a journalist in Hawaii and turned the tables on me by conducting and then writing up an interview with me for a local publication.

It was a lovely piece, which I probably still have in box of memories at home.

So Kevin, enjoy your retirement. I know you will likely be the busiest retiree in. your circle, but will make time for activities you want to do, not have to do on your own timetable.

I share these recollections to congratulate Kevin on finally bidding aloha to the work force.

I know our paths would not have criss-crossed if he wasn’t a singer, but fortunately, his job at one time connected with mine as a journalist, and it’s been a blissful intersection and intervention since. …

About Spam and chow fun…

If you savor Spam, it’s old news that McDonald’s in the islands serves Spam as an accompaniment to eggs, in one of its breakfast meals. The other option, you must know, is Portuguese sausage.

These “side” options, however, are not available  at McDonald’s on the Mainland.

Saimin also had been another only-in-Hawaii item at your local McRestaurant, but it was discontinued some time ago…

And lucky you live Hawaii, too, if you like chow fun with your Chinese take-out at Panda Express.

Panda here offers four starch choices (and you pick two):  white rice, fried rice, chow mein or chow fun in plate-lunch portions or in bulk via its Family Feast option. But most Mainland Panda eateries don’t have the chow fun…

Scratch this on your list

Scratch Kitchen in Hawaii Kai – located on the former site of Outback Steakhouse on Kalanianaole Hwy., at the Hawaii Kai Towne Center  – is opening at 9 a.m. Friday (April 14).

No specific details yet, but the restaurant plans to serve brunch (presume breakfast and lunch fare) as well as dinner.

Wish it would open earlier, like 7 a.m., on a trial run, for early birds who want to get breakfast before hitting the road, or retirees who get up early who would likely prefer an earlier time to have chit-chats with breakfast fare. You know, with eggs, bacon, and coffee, in a modified menu and timetable that would fill the void caused by the April closure of Zippy’s dining room at Koko Marina Shopping Center. Take-out counter service continues, but heck, dine-in matters, too.

Also newish at Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, is Tex808 BBQ & Brews, open for lunch and dinner on the waterfront. Ribs and brisket are the prime offerings and happily, there was a good-sized crowd when I visited Saturday night. There was live entertainment, but too loud with amplification. …

Pagoda koi population to downsize

Over at the Pagoda Hotel, you know that Sorabol has taken over the dining rooms, upstairs and downstairs, and in the pagoda clusters amid the ponds which have been home for the resident koi for decades. Korean food prevails in the dining halls.

But the koi population, as well as the scope of the ponds, apparently will be downsized.

The talk is that the koi and the watery element will be focused only in the front area of Sorabol, which means a key attraction on the site will be minimal. You could buy koi food and toss ’em as they swim to get their meals.

If there’s not much water surrounding the dining pods, there will be fewer koi, so the tradition will end, timetable not known.

Pagoda hotel guests still have access to breakfasts served at  the Pagoda ballroom, where shows or special buffet meals prevailed before, but these American meals are not open to the public.  …

And that’s Show Biz. …


  1. Mahalo Wayne san for this touching recollection of our decades long friendship and best wishes for my recent retirement. I thank God daily that our lives intersected way back in the day and we’ve maintained that close friendship for so many years. You and Vi have been such a blessing and support system for me. May God continue to bless you both with good health and I look forward to another rendezvous in NYC in 2023 – I have LOTS of time now so name the date and let’s do it!

  2. You’re truly one of the best of the best. We are blessed to count you as a friend, Enjoy your retirement, but know you’ll continue to do and give and share your savvy,

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