Pine Island's newest restaurant, Hideaway Grill and Sushi Bar, will open for lunch this Saturday, Dec. 3, at 11 a.m. The restaurant, located at 7573 Raymary St., Bokeelia (near Mile Marker 15), is family owned and operated. Ms. Kay (Kazuko Smith) is the owner and chef.
"I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, where I met my husband Walter," Smith said. "He was in the Navy when we met many years ago. Walter was stationed in Maryland and born in Fort Myers so when he retired from the Navy, we came back to the United States and bought a farm on the east side of Fort Myers and have lived there ever since."
When Ms. Kay was a young girl she spent time in a sushi restaurant and was attracted to the craft.
Chef Kay Smith
"I liked to watch them prepare the food and I was fascinated," Ms. Kay said. "I would order different dishes and learned about sushi. When I was in junior high school I really wanted to be a sushi chef and I wanted to become an apprentice but my mother wanted me to have a really good education. Also women didn't become sushi chefs - there were only men.
"My mother wanted me to go to business school so that's what I did," she continued. "I'm glad I went to business school because it gave me more opportunities. But when I married my husband and came to the United States, that's when I learned how to cook for my family."
Ms. Kay volunteered to cook at churches and local organizations.
"My daughter mentioned there were only two Japanese restaurants in Lakeland and thought I should open a restaurant there," she said. "I opened Shingetsu Sushi Bar and Grill in Lakeland, Fla. Shingetsu means 'New Moon.' For me it was a new beginning. We worked very hard and in 8 years we made it into a four-star restaurant. Then we decided to retire and sold the restaurant."
Unable to stay retired, Ms. Kay heard that the Minnesota Twins were looking for a chef and she applied for the job and got it. From there Smith worked as a chef at the Charlotte County Conference center.
"When I learned that this location on Pine Island was available, Walter and I came to look at it," Smith said. "I fell in love with Pine Island and just had a feeling that I could offer something unique - Japanese / American food. I make all the sauces for all of my dishes: ginger dressing, tempura, teriyaki, ginger sauce.
"Our menu is quite extensive and we will offer Japanese cuisine as well as sushi," Smith said. "But we also have lots of American foods like hamburgers and french fries, turkey, ham and, of course, chicken.
"Right now people have to drive to Cape Coral and Fort Myers for sushi and now they can come here," she said. "I'd like to invite everyone to come out and enjoy a cuisine new to Pine Island. Opening day is Saturday, Dec 3!"