To that question, the answer is: smoothies, mainly: juicy fruit-filled blends that people will – and do – drive hundreds of miles to enjoy. And arguably the best place to get a smoothie on the Big Island is What’s Shakin’, on the popular “scenic route” – the original highway that’s now a byway, up the Hamakua Coast.
The smoothies are made of frozen fruit — no fillers, no ice. Just good, homegrown fruit.
It started as a fruit stand, 20 years ago, and its owners still jokingly call it that, with great affection for what it was and what it has become. Patsy and Tim Withers came to the Big Island from L.A. in 1987, and bought 23 acres along the old road, much of which had been planted in macadamia nuts over the previous decade, after the local sugar company went out of business. The land was (and still is) zoned for agriculture, and had no structures on it except a tractor shed, although the Withers also purchased a modest two-bedroom house on its own lot just across the road.
Patsy, an accomplished dancer, and Tim, a moto-cross racing champ, both wanted to farm the land. They removed most of the mac-nut trees, replaced them with fruit trees and dozens of banana plants, and opened (what else?) a fruit stand. Their timing was excellent, as the old frontage road was just then becoming a visitor attraction. Along its four miles of rainforest, streams, gorges and rocky coastline between Papaikou and Pepeekeo, it is similar to the road to Hana, on Maui (albeit only one-tenth as long). And only a mile or so away, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden had opened, showcasing native and exotic plants in a lush valley culminating at Onomea Bay. The Withers quickly realized that their little fruit stand could be a destination in itself if they offered more than just fresh fruit.
So they built a small restaurant, open only from 10-5 every day, serving sandwiches and snacks, but mainly featuring smoothies made exclusively from fruit they had grown. Word spread quickly, aided by the then-new Internet, through which happy patrons contributed glowing reviews to travel sites. As a result, What’s Shakin’s smoothies have become a must-try, not only for independent travelers in rental cars, from as far away as Kona, but also as a scheduled stop for groups on backpack- and bicycle tours.
5-Star Business, Known Internationally, Featured in Magazines
Over the years, the Withers converted the house across the way to a vacation-rental, and built their own home behind the restaurant: a two-story house that stands on the 1,800-square-foot pad of that old tractor shed.
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Historic Vintage Cottage Guest Home — High Demand Rental
But now the Withers feel it’s time to move on, so everything is for sale: the house, the vacation-rental, and of course, What’s Shakin’. It’s a rare opportunity to acquire not only a unique home on a large parcel in a stunningly beautiful part of the island, but an enormously popular visitor-industry enterprise with a growing customer base.
Patsy doesn’t mince words, however, about what it takes to run What’s Shakin’. “Like any small business, you have to devote the time, not only to make good smoothies but to make sure everything is done right. This is not a fast-food operation,” she told me. “We have three employees, who’ll be happy to stay on; but you have to work there with them. You can take vacations, but you have to plan ahead for them.”
The expression “what’s shakin’?” is a colloquial contraction for “what’s going on, and what’s coming up?” And to Patsy and Tim, the present and the future of their industry is all about fresh fruit and vegetables and other demonstrably healthy foods. “With that in mind,” she said, “it seems to Tim and me that you just can not stop What’s Shakin’!”
To view the listing, virtual tour, photo gallery and full details, click here: www.OnomeaRetreat.com