Work Magazine - Eating Green

(Fall 2007)

When athletes hear the words Palani Drive, heartbeats quicken, blood pumps faster, muscles begin to rhythmically flex. This maybe accompanied by a series of tough "he-person" grunts.

Palani Drive, for those unfamiliar athletes, is the homestretch of the Ironman Kona, Hawaii. When people from the region hear the words Palani Drive, heartbeats quicken and blood pumps faster. This is always accompanied by the smacking of one's lips and occasional drool. Palani Drive for regional locals is the home of great healthy vegetarian food and a laid-back atmosphere on Libbie Avenue.

"What we are all about is providing fresh, healthy food, good service and a pleasant atmosphere," declares athlete Jeff Weatherly, owner of Palni Drive. Trading a career nine years ago as an Environmental Engineer developing solutions to environmental problems, Weatherly developed this healthy alternative to fast food, specializing in smoothies, wraps, burritos, and quesadillas.

Billing themselves as purveyors of "Well-Built Food," the menu delivers exactly that! Although primarily vegetarian, meat may be added to many of the dishes. Appetuzers known as Small Plates offer Nachos, Romaine Roll-Ups (stir-fried veggies with portabella mushrooms of chicken is served with romaine leaves) or Pizza Quesadilla (jack and feta cheeses, tomato sauce, basil, sauteed mushrooms and spinach in a flour tortilla).

Choose Big Plate items such as The Big Burrito (beans, potato, corn, grilled onion, and cheese, baked in a tortilla and servec with white bean chili, and salsa) or Portabella Pasta (linguine tossed with portabella mushrooms, basil, garlic, and spinach with a gorgonzola cheese sauce and served with focaccia).

If fabulous, hearty quesadillas are you preference, the obvious choice would be the Italian (gorgonzola cheese, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, mushrooms, and pesto sauce on a wheat tortilla served with hummus and tabouli), the Tuscan (grilled chicken, parmesan and jack cheeses, pesto, and tomato served with hummus and tabouli) or the Polynesian (pineapple, bacon, Monterey jack cheese and banana peppers served with rice, salsa, and sour cream).

Their signature smoothies are a "must taste"! Try the Ironman (strawberry, banana, blackberry, mango juice and orange juice with a multi-vitamin) or the Blue Hawaii (strawberry, blackberry, blueberry and mango juice). Just two of the many, but all delicious.

Additonally, there are desserts, tea and coffee drinks and a full bar. During the day customers are offered counter service and in the evening the comfortable dining room becomes full service.

"Our customers range from athletes, students, business people and families," states Weatherly. "We are very involved in the community from sponsoring several races to supporting Make-A-Wish, the SPCA and various cancer organizations," adds Weatherly.

Open from 11am to 10:30pm daily, Palani Drive is located at 401 Libbie Ave.