KAILUA-KONA – On the penultimate day, in the former location of Privateer's Cove, a couple asked the restaurant owner, Nick Traxler, if he, the man behind a pirate restaurant, was also the right man to run a community center at the old Hualalai Theater.
"No, I'm not, I'm not at all, I'm a pirate, I'm a tough guy," Traxler recalls last week in the old Hualalai Road theater. "The difference is that I can … I have an opportunity where I can be the person who opens it.And we have a lot of good people here who are the right people to be in a community center. "
"No, am I the right person? No, he added. "But why not seize the opportunity?"
The opportunity to offer something to the community – with a children's center, a theater and a veterans' center under one roof – is also offered to other residents. Last Saturday, many of them came for a day of renovations to turn the old theater into a place for the community, its children and its veterans.
"For the community, having a keiki space is huge," said Joy Wu, one of the people who contributed to the work day. "A safe space for teenagers where teens meet is huge. That families get together … it's huge. So I think it just gives people a chance to connect.
The community center, known as the Pirates Outreach Community Center, will be fully funded with proceeds from the centrally located Privateer's Cove restaurant.
"Privateer's Cove is fully funding the non-profit association," said Traxler. "One hundred percent of our profit margin funds the community center."
There is only a month left until the official opening of the community center, scheduled for March 17, but Traxler already has many ideas about how he sees the center offering something to the community that passes through his community. doors.
"Every night something should happen," he said. "We do not have many 12,000 square feet in this city, let alone in the center of this city."
These events include free movies for the community on Fridays and Saturdays. Once he was able to install the projector, he said "The bridge over the Kwai River" – his mother's favorite movie – would start the screenings.
He said he had contacted police and fire departments about each of the movie nights, noting that it was essential to bring people together from all over the community.
The facility also includes a children's center – with board games, board games and video consoles – for the children of the community.
Already, one month before the official opening, 20 to 30 children per night go to the community center.
In addition to being a fun place for kids, it also plans to make it a space conducive to learning opportunities and extracurricular help.
Traxler himself plans to teach test taking strategies for entrance exams at the university and postgraduate level. He also sees the potential for skills development, such as budgeting, university application and funding for graduate studies.
"These kids do not even know that these options exist – $ 16,000 in this city, scholarships awarded by residents of this city were not awarded last year," said Traxler. "They have not been applied."
Traxler said the third space is being renovated in an American Legion room to include a 35-person boardroom for this organization and other veterans groups.
In total, this represents 23 non – profit groups that will work one way or another in the community center.
Susan Bickell, president of the Kona Chamber Orchestra, who will be rehearsing and performing at the community center, said she was looking forward to partnering with Traxler and the community center.
"We have been looking for a place where we can call home for a long time," she said. "So, we will always have a place to play."
Three churches are also under the roof, including the Pentecostal Church of Kosrae, whose faithful were among the volunteers last Saturday.
"Here on this side of the island, we do not have a youth center where young people can spend their time, stay away from the street," said Kevan Charley, pastor at the church. "And I think that, after what Nick told us, it adds something that will help kids focus on their work or just relax."
As a condition of their lease, Traxler stated that all non-profit organizations operating outside the community center will have to meet every two months and discuss ways to work together to improve the community.
"Do you get all these people on the same page? The projects we can undertake go far beyond anything we have ever achieved, "he said.
The restaurant is currently preparing breakfast and lunch. Dinner is to be defined, but no later than March 17th.
And when community members stop for a meal, says Traxler, they can always expect the same restaurant and hacker to be at the helm.
"The abrasive thing will not change, I will always be the same as me," he said. "The difference is that it's an opportunity, and not taking it would be absolutely ridiculous."