Hawaiian-themed restaurant moving into former Dee Felice Cafe space

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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Covington’s MainStrasse Village is adding a new restaurant — one that should be familiar to residents of Latonia.

Yesterday, Kealoha’s Kitchen, a Hawaiian-style eatery, announced they would move into the vacant storefront at the corner of W. 6th and Main streets that housed the now-shuttered Dee Felice Cafe. The establishment broadcasted the news of their relocation on their Facebook page.

“Got some very exciting news concerning the future of Kealoha ‘s kitchen,” read the post. “We will be moving into the space where the iconic DeeFelice Cafe was in MainStrasse!”

The storefront is in a prominent location within MainStrasse. The district is a hotspot for nightlife and dining in Covington. Directly across the street is Lisse Steakhuis. British-style pub Cock And Bull is adjacent.

Currently, Kealoha operates out of a storefront located at 3428 Decoursey Ave. in Latonia. The restaurant plans to continue operating at this location through the end of October. If everything goes according to plan, Kealoha will be operating out of their new storefront this November.

The storefront became available after the owners of DeeFelice Cafe, Shelly DeFelice-Nelson and Patrick Nelson, decided to close the New Orleans-style restaurant after 39 years in business. The couple currently operates Dee Felice Market, a neighborhood grocery store, in the space next to the former cafe.

The couple originally purchased the building in 1998 for $675,000, according to Kenton County property records. It was initially constructed in 1860. Commercial real estate company NIA Bergman was the firm that advertised the space.

“We took our time working out who would make the best of the location, and this wonderful family checked every box. They have such passion for what they do, and this is going to be amazing,” DeFelice-Nelson and Nelson announced on the Dee Felice Market Facebook page.

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Kealoha’s Kitchen was founded by Val and Amy Abafo in late 2021. Before that, Val was serving Hawaiian-inspired dishes out of a food truck. A native of Oahu, Hawaii, the restaurant prepares dishes from Val’s childhood. This includes kalua pig, pineapple teriyaki short rib and ahi tuna poke.

The Abafo’s also decided to open the restaurant as a tribute to Val’s late brother, Rudy Kealoha Abafo, who died in 2008 at the age of 51, according to their website.

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