Of the three restaurants famous for their breakfast in the Kailua area, Boots and Kimos has more Yelp reviews than Cinnamon’s and Moke’s Bread and Breakfast combined. As for any company, the worst case scenario is not having enough business. Fortunately, for Boots and Kimos this does not seem to be the case. However, they are running into another problem with too much business. They don’t seem to be able to handle the volume of business they are receiving either, especially in the relatively small store they are currently in and with customer wait times of up to two hours if not more. Reservations are not allowed and cash payment is the only form of currency accepted. For all these reasons, I shall address their food last as I feel consumers should be aware of what they are getting into when they choose to eat at Boots and Kimos.
As I mentioned above, reservations are not allowed so if you show up be prepared to wait a while before you are seated and wait some more before your order is ready. Any restaurant with a good reputation is going to have some sort of wait time, but many high profile restaurants will also take reservations to offset this. As popular as Boots and Kimos seem to be, they could address this issue by moving to a place that would hold a much bigger capacity, which would also allow for customer reservations and larger seating arrangements. They have only been in this new location for about 4 years, but they have clearly outgrown it already.
Just to give you an idea of how my first and only visit to Boots and Kimos went, I got there right around noon on a Tuesday. There were already a lot of people waiting outside to be seated. When I walked inside, there was also a line to put your name on the wait list. When I asked how long it would be, the manager taking down names said it would be over an hour before my party of two could be seated. I was not in a huge hurry so I went ahead and put my name on the list then walked back outside to look over their menu posted there. After waiting about 20 minutes or so, I did not see a lot of people leaving the restaurant so I went back to place my order to go. When reviewing a restaurant, I would never order to go; however, in this instance I made an exception. I ordered their famous blueberry macadamia nut pancakes.
Shortly after I placed my order, I overheard one of the managers telling the staff to let any customer coming in know that they’d no longer be seating any new walk-ins so all those orders must be placed to go. This was right around 12:30pm. However, their doors don’t close till 2:00pm (2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays). I don’t care how good the food is at any good restaurant, it’s still always best to eat it there while it’s hot and fresh than having to take it to go. As most food, especially pancakes covered in syrup sauce, does not travel well. Nine times out of ten, it’s better to just come back another day. When I heard this, I asked the manager if this was the norm. She said they sometimes make this announcement as early as noon. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked to find out this was a daily issue.
I did not take an exact count of the number of tables available for seating but I am guessing there were about 18 to 22 tables. I can understand why Boots and Kimos has not moved to another location as they’ve only been at this one for about 4 years. They have a nice setup with a high ceiling that’s very decked out with all sorts of memorabilia. They even have a little makeshift hut where you pay for your meal. I really like the location and the overall look and feel of Boots and Kimos. It is almost setup like a breakfast sports bar. However, if the size was able to fit the demand, I would not change a thing about it. But as it stands, it’s just not cutting it for the amount of people who dine there on a daily basis. If they have no plans to move to a bigger location, they really need to look into getting the place next door when and if it becomes available.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, this is a cash only establishment. So if you’re dining in and you didn’t bring enough cash to pay for your meal you will have to go to an ATM. This is not a small food truck where you’d expect cash only payment, this is a full sized restaurant. Due to the sheer volume of business and the fact that they are in a restaurant setting, it is shocking that they do not accept other forms of payment like credit or debit cards. If you look on Yelp, you will see where customers literally had to send someone in their party to get cash in order to pay for their meal.
Now that these three glaring issues have been addressed so that you the consumer will be informed instead of shocked when you choose to dine at Boots and Kimos, it’s time to get to their food. As I could never eat a full order of pancakes, I normally only order one plus their most popular entree, which I did at Cinnamon’s and Moke’s Bread and Breakfast. Unfortunately, Boots and Kimos did not allow for this and as I wanted to review their most popular pancake, I had no choice but to order the full order. Though, they did allow for an order of two pancakes for just $1 off (full order is $10.99 for three pancakes), it just made more sense to order the full order since I wasn’t saving that much for an order of two pancakes. Both Cinnamon’s and Moke’s one pancake order is around $3.50. Cinnamon’s two pancakes order is $6.50; Moke’s two pancakes order is $7.50. Boots and Kimos is by far the most expensive.
Since Boots and Kimos did not allow a single pancake order , I decided to skip the rib plate I was going to get because I knew the pancakes would completely wipe me out. Unfortunately, this review will not include any other item besides the pitaya smoothie I ordered to go with my pancakes.
The pancakes are pretty sizeable with a decent amount of fresh blueberries throughout each pancake. The macadamia nut sauce was sweet and went nicely with the pancakes. This was overall a very good dish. Here lies the problem though; no matter how good a pancake is, there is a pretty quick threshold where you just don’t want any more. Like the late comedian, Mitch Hedberg said, “As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have to end the show strong. Those are the two key elements. You can’t be like pancakes…all exciting at first, but then by the end, you’re sick of ’em.” One pancake was pretty much my threshold so it’s unfortunate I wasn’t able to order just one, even though they were very good. The pitaya smoothie was also pretty good; however, compared to others I’ve had on the island, it was about average in overall taste.
Boots and Kimos, at the time of this review, had 1,618 total Yelp reviews. About 20%, roughly 1 in 5 people, weren’t happy with their dining experience and rated them 1 or 2 stars. I read most of the 1 star reviews to get an idea of why they didn’t enjoy their time there.
Clearly, the wait time was a huge issue and unless the food you are serving is Michelin star quality and even then, a long wait time is going to have a negative impact on anyone’s dining enjoyment. Another thing people weren’t happy about was their customer service, which was either very poor and or very rude. I must say though, during my visit, everyone I dealt with was pretty nice and friendly. One lady even gave my little girl a lollypop. However, there are way too many complaints regarding the treatment by the staff and or management to customers to disregard it so clearly this has been an ongoing issue at Boots and Kimos.
Overall, there are a lot of things I like about Boots and Kimos. Unfortunately, the extremely long wait time and fairly high prices in comparison to the other two breakfast places nearby make it hard to recommend this establishment, especially when you can go to Cinnamon’s or Moke’s Bread and Breakfast, less than a mile away and get just as good a meal if not better for equal or less money than Boots and Kimos.
When it comes to their signature dish, the Macadamia Nut Pancakes, as good as it may be, it is hard to justify waiting an hour or two to try them. The Guava Chiffon pancakes at Cinnamon’s and the Lilikoi Pancakes at Mokes Bread and Breakfast are just as good if not better than Boots and Kimos and cost a lot less. You’ll also be able to order just one pancake alongside another entree so that way you don’t tire of the pancakes so quickly and still have room for a main breakfast dish.
Something is going to have to change at Boots and Kimos because waiting an hour or two is going to sour a lot of people on the overall experience there. Also, when you have a restaurant that is basically maxed out on a daily basis, tempers may flare up a little on both sides of the fence. Though this isn’t the desired result, it sure is the right mix to get both the customers and the staff agitated with one another. While this may not happen all the time, just one visit and you will see this situation is not optimal for the staff or the customers.
Probably the most disturbing thing I’ve read by numerous reviews on Yelp is they that people would come in, give their names to the hostess but see people coming in after them getting seated before them. Since reservations are not allowed at Boots and Kimos, this should never happen. From what it sounds like, there seems to be some sort of agreement between one or several tour companies where their tourists are allegedly seated before some of the other waiting patrons. I did not see this first hand but many reviews are stating this same story. I cannot personally verify these statements but If this is true, that is a pretty shady business practice.
I read one review where they said they waited over two and a half hours. I don’t care how patient you are, this is just unacceptable for any restaurant to have their customers wait that long to be seated. Also keep in mind, if you are a tourist, you probably have a limited amount of time on your vacation and this island is not a cheap place to visit. Do you really want that time spent taking up to three hours to eat a meal when you could be doing something else besides waiting to be seated? It is one thing to wind down the evening with a long extended meal like a luau and kill a few hours that way but to start your day this way will put a damper on your events for that day.
Though Boots and Kimos are open from 7:00am to 2:00pm Monday through Friday and from 7:00am to 2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays, keep in mind, most days they could stop seating at around 12:30pm to 1:00pm. After reading this article, you should be prepared for a long wait or order your food to go. Don’t forget to bring cash or you’ll be driving around looking for an ATM once you’ve finished your meal.
Here are some photos from my visit to Boots and Kimos
Map to Boots and Kimos