Remembering Bobby Nakihei: A Hawaiian Legend of Lynnwood


LYNNWOOD, Washington, October 28, 2021 – For many, Robert Kala Nakihei was the epitome of the aloha spirit. As the owner and founder of Bobby’s Hawaiian-style restaurant in Lynnwood, he was an active member of the musical, religious, Hawaiian and culinary communities surrounding Snohomish County. Those who knew him said he always made people around him feel like family.

As a Vietnam veteran, after overcoming Agent Orange exposure, heart and kidney transplants, stroke, and diabetes, Robert, “Bobby”, was known to his friends and family as a survivor. . But on October 3, he finally lost his life to the COVID-19 virus. He was 66 years old and was fully vaccinated.

“I was confused. We all assumed he was going to be okay,” Robert Nakihei Jr. (42), Bobby’s son, told the Lynnwood Times. “It’s confusion, so he it’s about making sure everyone is strong enough to deal with it. I might be going through this, but so is my family, so it’s about making sure the family unit comes together to get through that. ”

Bobby graduated from Moloka’i High School in 1972 and attended several colleges before enlisting in the Navy, proudly serving in the Vietnam War. He met his 46-year-old wife Diana at He’eia Elementary School while coaching his volleyball team at James B. Castle High School.

Bobby Nakihei and his wife Diana.

Before moving to Washington, Bobby was a bus driver in Honolulu and played bass in several Hawaiian bands, a passion that lasted his entire life.

The two moved to Lynnwood from Honolulu in 1989 and, after noticing the lack of Pacific Island food in the area, decided to open their own restaurant. They opened their first location in Everett in 1999 and a second location in Lynnwood in 2000, the first of which closed after Bobby’s heart transplant when the couple decided to “slow down”.

Bobby has always had a passion for cooking, attending cooking school and owning several bakeries in Hawaii before opening his restaurant.

Active in his faith, Bobby was a certified pastor and extremely involved in his Everett church. He loved to play music and supported many luaus and charity events in the Puget Sound area.

“One of his best qualities was the way he pursued his passions. He would talk about things, then follow them. He’s always inspired me to do a lot of things and not really settle down. If he believed in it, there wasn’t much you could do to change his mind, ”said Robert Jr.

Bobby’s Hawaiian-style restaurant has been featured twice on restaurateur and TV personality Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, once in 2007 and again in 2018, as well as on the Food Network. . Over the past 30 years, Bobby has served the communities of Everett and Lynnwood with his Aloha spirit and authentic cuisine, remaining open throughout the pandemic, despite countless setbacks.

In early September, Bobby and his wife began to show symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. They had a fever, low energy, cough, and difficulty breathing. After deciding to get tested, they learned they had contracted the virus.

Bobby was sent to UW Hospital when his breathing difficulties persisted. She was given a variety of drugs to help get air into her lungs. A month later, he passed away. His wife Diana has since made a full recovery.

“It was a fight from the start. He’s the one who showed me that life is going to hit you in the chest, but you pull up your pants and push forward. He showed me strength, ”said Robert Jr.

After Bobby’s death, the restaurant closed for a week to allow the Nakihei family to mourn. Over the past few weeks, hundreds of people have stopped to pay their respects, bringing flowers, cards and keepsakes demonstrating the tremendous influence Bobby has had on his community.

“When it comes to community and family, he kind of held up,” said Robert Jr.

A memorial service was held on Friday October 22 at the Evergreen Memorial Funeral Home in Everett. The Nakihei family deliberately did not choose to create a GoFundMe and kindly requested that no one else do.

According to Bobby’s son, “There is no GoFundMe and there never will be.” If people wish to offer their condolences to the Nakihei family, they can do so through prayers, messages or phone calls, which he said “really helps the grieving process”, and thanked everyone who has already done so.

“If I could send my dad with one thing, I would finally say thank you for doing the best job possible with everything available to you. He did it his way, but he did it the best he could. And I’m very grateful for it, and my family is very grateful for it. Not only do I appreciate everything you’ve taught me and shown me, but just know that we got it from here, ”Robert Jr. told the Lynnwood Times.

Bobby’s restaurant will reopen on NOVEMBER 10, and Bobby’s two children, Robert Jr. and Psalms (32) will take over the management.

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