Foodie’s paradise Number, diversity of Homer’s eateries mean there’s a dish for whatever you’re craving
For a small town, Homer has a big reputation for its lively arts community, its bustling fishing industry and its plethora of diverse and tasty food options. Because of the variety of choices offered by its unique eateries, many view Homer as a foodie’s paradise. Between the cafes, taverns, buffet lines and restaurants, Homer has it all. Here is an A-Z directory on Homer’s in-town eateries.
AJ’s OldTown Steakhouse & Tavern
Owners: Alex and Adrienne Sweeney
Location: 120 W. Bunnell Ave.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; and Friday-Saturday 4 p.m.-close
Menu: Steaks, hamburgers, seafood, salads, soups
Owners of AJ’s Steakhouse and Tavern, Alex and Adrienne Sweeney, recently created a new wine list and switched its top sirloin steak to USDA prime beef. Going into their fourth year, Adrienne pointed out Homer’s mark on the map as a famous foodie town.
“Homer is so lucky to be such a great dining destination,” she said.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday starting June 10 AJ’s Steakhouse and Tavern will host a 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Hobo Jim show with a $5 cover charge. Adrienne assured the shows are family friendly and a comfortable audio level for dinner music.
The restaurant’s signature drinks include the “Tugboat Mamma Martini” and a house pineapple-infused vodka.
AJ’s Steakhouse is opened Sunday-Thursday 4 p.m.-10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 4 p.m.-close.
Owners: Nelton and Megan Palma
Location: 453 E. Pioneer Ave.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 4 p.m.-close; and Sunday 11:30 a.m.- close
Menu: Sandwiches, tacos,
Nelton and Megan Palma cater to the family friendly daytime identity of the Alibi, as well as its “evening alter ego,” as Nelton put it.
“Our food has been our little secret for a long time,” said Nelton. While known for its full bar, karaoke and music, the non-smoking Alibi also has a menu of “mostly Baja-style” Mexican food, one of the most popular items being the halibut tacos.
“We have people come in who’ve had three or four people tell them about our halibut tacos,” Nelton said. “Then after trying them that person starts coming in twice a week.”
Nelton said families are welcome, though not encouraged after 10 p.m., and minors under 21 years old need a guardian. The Alibi is open Monday-Saturday 4 p.m.-close and Sunday 11:30 a.m.-close.
Beluga Bar and Grill
Owner: Doug Johnson
Location: 204 Ocean Drive Loop
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 3 p.m.-10 p.m.
Menu: Burgers, steak, salad
The Beluga Bar and Grill, inside Beluga Lake Lodge, is getting ready for a revamped kitchen and is expecting new changes to the menu “depending on what the new kitchen equipment will offer us,” said general manager Diane Hively.
Specials are served each night, including a “Burgers and Brews,” better known as “Pilots’ Night” on Thursday; old-fashioned chicken fried steak on Tuesday and Wednesday; and smoked prime rib on Fridays.
“The main thing in the summer time is getting local vegetables from the Farmers Market down the road,” said Hively.
The Beluga Bar and Grill offers a full bar with local beers and wines.
“People just love our deck,” said Hively about the restaurant’s wraparound deck. “It is very popular for just relaxing and sightseeing the estuary and lake.”
The Beluga Bar and Grill is open Tuesday-Saturday 3 p.m.-10 p.m.
Boat Yard Cafe
Owners: Jamie and Tuck Pennington
Location: 41935 Kachemak Drive
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 8 a.m.-
4 p.m., closed July
Menu: Breakfast, seafood, sandwiches
Planted near the entrance of the Homer Boat Yard, the Boat Yard Cafe has been in operation for more than 40 years, and under the ownership of Jamie and Tuck Pennington for the past two years.
The cafe uses meat from McNeil Canyon Meat Co. and menu items include breakfast, burgers, fish and chips and sandwiches.
“Our reuben sandwich is one of the best in town and both the fresh halibut sandwich and the fish and chips are the regulars’ favorites,” said Jamie.
The Boat Yard Cafe is open Tuesday-Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and will be closed for the month of July.
Owners: James and Amy Lower
Location: 94 Sterling Highway
Hours: 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily
Menu: Burgers, barbecue,
Owners: Jennifer and Dave Olsen
Location: 162 W. Pioneer Ave.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Menu: Pasta, lamb, duck, seafood, salad, dessert
Cafe´ Cups owners Jennifer and Dave Olsen, who have both called Homer their home for more than 20 years, know the “ins and outs of the food and beverage industry,” said Dave.
“We are lucky to live in the awesome and diverse town of Homer, which is known around the state for its restaurants,” he said.
Offering a beer and wine list, Cafe´ Cups usually features seven specials a night, including pasta, lamb, duck, steak and seafood. Dave also highlighted the restaurant’s popular burgers.
“We grind our own burgers from the trimmings from our steak fillets, and we’ve come to the point where people call ahead and reserve them because we have a limited amount and they are really popular.”
Cafe´ Cups is open Tuesday-Saturday 4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Caribou Family Restaurant
Owners: Sally Johnson and Jackie Ray
Location: 672 East End Road
Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Menu: Breakfast, pasta, steak,
seafood, salad, dessert
Jackie Ray and Sally Johnson have been the owners of Caribou Family Restaurant since 2007. With everything from buffalo to clams to milkshakes, they like to keep the menu diverse.
“We have the biggest menu on the Kenai Peninsula,” said Jackie. “It’s a five piece menu. We’ve got something for kids, seniors, everyone.”
Specials nights include prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays, roast pork on Tuesdays, meatloaf on Wednesdays, and a daily evening salad bar.
Jackie said the restaurant’s liver and onions dish is a popular choice, as well as the signature Caribou Sausage and Eggs.
The Caribou Family Restaurant is opened 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Owners: Sean Hogan and Michelle Wilson
Location: 510 E. Pioneer Ave.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Menu: Burritos, tacos, seafood, salads, gyros, soups, sandwiches
Owned by Sean Hogan and Michelle Wilson since 2003, Sean referred to the Cosmic Kitchen as the “people’s pantry,” making a point that the restaurant is happy to accommodate special orders.
“We have more than 125 items on our menu,” he calculated.
Cosmic Kitchen will soon implement a “frequent diner card,” which Sean said will give frequent customers points toward a free meal with each purchase.
Another new addition was the installation of a clear vinyl cover on the outside deck that can be rolled out to provide the outside seating protection from bad weather.
The Cosmic Kitchen is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Don Jose’s Mexican Restaurant
Owners: Jose and Carmen Ramos
Location: 127 W Pioneer Ave.
Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Saturday- Sunday noon-
Menu: Burritos, tacos, seafood, soup, salad, pizza, dessert
Started last year and growing in popularity is the “healthy menu” at Don Jose’s, said owners Carmen and Jose Ramos, who have owned the restaurant for 34 years. A type of “build your own” menu, it caters to customers with dietary restrictions with options like brown rice, quinoa and wheat tortillas. The Ramoses said it is a favorite.
“Our ‘Naked Burrito’ also is really famous,” said Carmen. She also listed popular items from the full bar list.
“In the summer everyone loves our house margarita with fresh lime juice and the mojitos with fresh mint leaves,” she said.
Don Jose’s is open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon-10 p.m.
Duncan House Diner
Owners: Barb and Brad Gamble
Location: 125 E. Pioneer Ave.
Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. daily
Menu: Breakfast, sandwiches, salads, burgers, desserts
Brad and Barb Gamble, owners of the Duncan House, have been focusing on making as many health-conscious choices available to their guests as possible.
“There are more gluten-free options that have been added to the menu, and there are more coming,” said Brad of the recently added gluten-free options which include toast, country potatoes, fries and dressings.
He also mentioned that the “Eggs Maui” and “Neptune Sandwich” were recently added to the menu.
Locally caught fish is a popular favorite, according to Brad, along with their “Rockin’ Reindog,” which is a reindeer sausage wrapped in a bun.
The Duncan House is open 7 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
Far Out Cafe
Owners: Tim Hamilton
Location: 60449 East End Road
Hours: Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Menu: Breakfast, sandwiches,
While current owner Tim Hamilton will remain involved in management, ownership of Far Out Cafe will soon switch to sister team Mandy and Mickey Holthaus beginning July 1.
“We’re going to simplify the menu, but nothing too drastic,” said Mandy. “We’re going to keep all (Hamilton’s) signatures like sauces and sandwiches.” Along with the transition of ownership, ovens will be installed, which the sisters plan to use to make sandwich bread.
The cafe offers Kaladi Brothers Coffee and also exclusively sells Hena’s Simply Salsa.
“We’re a more local oriented place,” said Hamilton who said the cafe’s busiest months are September and May. “We will make anyone anything they want with what we’ve got in the kitchen.”
The Far Out Cafe is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Fat Olives Restaurant
Owners: Steve and Lisa Nolan
Location: 276 Ohlson Lane
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily
Menu: Pizza, steaks, seafood, pasta, salad, appetizers, desserts
Steve and Lisa Nolan, owners of Fat Olives Restaurant, are preparing for summer transitions, improvements and changes. Starting in June, they will introduce their summer menu that will feature local seafood.
“On the pizza side of the menu we have added six new pies and are introducing white sauce as an option to any of our pizzas,” said Lisa.
Lisa also mentioned renovations soon beginning on the restaurant building.
“Our building was an old school bus barn that was fully renovated when we opened,” she said. “This year we are putting in new gardens and a pathway from the chamber of commerce. Keep your eyes open to our newest addition at the south end of our building.”
Fat Olives Restaurant is open 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily.
Fresh Sourdough Express
Owners: Donna and Kevin Maltz
Location: 1316 Ocean Drive
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Menu: Breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, salads, desserts, baked goods
Donna and Kevin Maltz have been passionate about locally grown and organic food since opening up the Fresh Sourdough Express in 1982. Their vision of running an ecologically friendly business includes that the restaurant recycles and composts.
Donna said they continually prioritize offering health options for the menu.
“Now we have a fresh juice bar where we make organic fresh juices, and also a ‘build your own’ menu in addition to our previous menu, which is accommodating people of all dietary restrictions, gluten, vegan and ‘Paleo.’ Build your own meal and keep it affordable with local and organic food,” she said.
The Fresh Sourdough Express offers full restaurant catering services and the option to rent the restaurant space during non-working hours.
The Fresh Sourdough Express is open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
J & B’s Smok’n BBQ
Owners: Jack and Becky Turner
Location: 331 E. Pioneer Ave.
Hours: Monday-Friday 11a.m.-6 p.m. starting June
Menu: Primarily take out; barbecue meat, sandwiches, pasta
Jack and Becky Turner originally expressed their talent while cooking for the Homer High School Mariner football team, when they served as president and vice president of the booster club and had a son on the team.
After requests of expansion from their growing fan base of athletes and parents, they started at their current location in 2003 and have become a popular choice for a bite on the go.
The couple also offers catering services, which Jack said they have been busy with already, between recent graduations and weddings.
“Word of mouth is our biggest seller,” said Jack. “We want to thank the Homer community for supporting us. We’re open all year and serve local for locals.”
On a weekly basis the couple donates all excess food to the Homer Fire Department where their son is an EMT.
Owners: Michael McGuire and Caressa Starshine
Location: 397 W. Pioneer Ave. and Mile 3 East End Road
Hours: Pioneer Avenue location — 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; East End Road drive- through — 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily
Menu: Baked goods, breakfast, wraps, salads
Owners Michael McGuire and Caressa Starshine are proud of their almost completely organic menu, which McGuire says is currently about 90 percent. They are adamant about “farmer-to-plate” food and “seed-to-cup” coffee, with attention on “traceability” back to the products’ origins.
KBay also locally roasts 100 percent organic coffee, serving a few organic a day such as smoked salmon seaweed rolls, breakfast burritos and hummus wraps.
“We offer gluten-free and vegan options every day,” said McGuire.
KBay on Pioneer is open 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. daily and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily at the drive-through.
Owners: Maura Brenin and Melissa McCray-Josephs
Location: 106 W. Bunnell Ave.
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Menu: Breakfast, seafood, baked goods, cheeses, salad, sandwiches
Roosted in the heart of Old Town, Maura’s Cafe, owned by Maura Brenin and Melissa McCray-Josephs, has seen a busy summer so far, said Maura.
“Homer is bustling, full of exciting visitors and positive energy,” she said. “I expect more of the same from Homer as being recognized as a destination for fine food, a thriving art scene, a scenic wonder and of course its amazing fishing.”
Maura’s Cafe is currently featuring award winning Olympic Provisions Charcuterie and 40 specialty cheeses.
It also offers baked goods made with organic non GMO flour and sugar and provides gluten-free and vegan friendly options.
Catering is available for “intimate events and grander gatherings.”
Maura’s Cafe is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Franchise owners: Dena and Scott Cunningham
Location: 3656 Ben Walters Lane
Hours: 5 a.m.-midnight daily
Menu: Breakfast, burgers,
Dena and Scott Cunningham have been the franchise owners of McDonalds since 1992, shortly after seeing Homer for the first time.
“We fell in love with the community and the beautiful views and decided to make it our home,” said Dena.
The Cunninghams are passionate about supporting local events and non-profit organizations through avenues like coupon and product donations.
“Once again we are sponsoring the Homer Halibut Derby tickets,so anyone who purchases a derby ticket not only has a chance to win prizes in the derby but they also get a McDonald’s coupon on the back of the ticket,” said Dena.
McDonald’s is open 5 a.m.-midnight daily.
Owners: Jeff and Kelly Lockwood
Location: 3487 Main St.
Hours: Monday-Tuesday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday 11a.m.-8 p.m.
Menu: Seafood, gumbo, po-boys, savory pies, desserts
A whole new menu has accompanied the new management of Jeff and Kelly Lockwood at Mermaid Cafe starting this spring. Featuring the meats from their sausage-making business, Monkey’s Fist Charcuterie, the couple cooks up a Louisiana and Alaska type fusion.
“We joke that our food is Louisi-Aska — Louisiana style food with Alaskan ingredients,” said Jeff.
He described the menu as Cajun styled with a hint of French country cooking. He takes pride in the restaurant’s wine list, which includes wines from France, South Africa, Oregon, and Portugal.
“We are filling a niche in Homer with a different style of food. We have friends who are restaurant owners, and we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” said Kelly.
The Mermaid Cafe is open Monday-Tuesday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday 11a.m.-8 p.m.
Owner: Doug Johnson
Location: 575 Sterling Highway
Hours: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. daily
Menu: Steak, seafood, burgers,
The Otter Room, which is attached to the Best Western Bidarka Inn building, not only offers a full bar, but also serves a menu that includes soups, seafood, salad and burgers.
Kitchen manager Justin Millard, who has 16 years cooking experience under his belt, said a new menu was recently launched, “with old favorites, a few new items and a different format.”
“It’s bar food with an emphasis on good, high quality steak, seafood and sandwiches,” said Justin. “People really like our fresh chili and daily soups.”
Friday is prime rib night at the Otter Room, and Monday night provides a draft beer and burger for $12.
The Otter Room is open 4 p.m.-10 p.m. daily, with the adjacent Fireside Lounge open until midnight.
Pho and Thai Restaurant
Owner: Bunloeun Chin
Location: 345 Sterling Highway
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Menu: Chicken, curries, noodles, soup
Bunloeun Chin has owned Pho and Thai Restaurant for three years, serving Thai-style menu items like curries, noodles and soup.
Chin says he is expecting business to pick up as the summer progresses and more people arrive from out of town.
Chin’s nephew Kottie Chaidy, 17, from California is helping at the restaurant this summer.
“Everyone likes the Pad Thai,” said Chaidy. “The spring rolls and curries are also really popular.” Chaidy said his favorite is the Pad Thai, but he orders it with broccoli.
The Pho and Thai Restaurant is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
Starvin Marvin’s Pizza
Owners: Lary Alberston, Chad Albertson, Crystal Harrington
Location: 1663 Homer Spit Road
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9
p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Menu: Pizza, burgers, appetizers
Starvin Marvin’s Pizza will have more to offer, including burgers and fries, this summer with a newly installed industrial kitchen. Owners Lary Albertson, Chad Albertson and Crystal Harrington will soon expand the menu even more with several Italian pasta options.
Chad said it’s been five years coming and he is excited for a refreshing change.
“As always people love our crust and pizza will be our main focal point,” he said. “But, if people come here and want to try something new, we’ve got options for them now.”
Starvin Marvin’s Pizza is open Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Owner: Jackey Hess
Location: 637 E. Pioneer Ave.
Hours: Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-11:30
p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Menu: Breakfast, sandwiches, salads
The Bagel Shop
Owners: Mikela Aramburu and Gabe Chapin
Location: 3745 East End Road
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 6 a.m.-4 p.m.;
Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Menu: Bagels, sandwiches, salads
Mikela Aramburu and co-owner and baker Gabe Chapin have maintained a loyal following of their “bagel-centric” menu since opening up shop in February last year. They are already selling amounts “comparable to last year in July,” according to Mikela.
She said that although there have been requests from customers to move the The Bagel Shop into town, there are no plans to do so.Using meats from McNeil Canyon Meat Co. Mikela said that bacon is second to bagels on the popularity scale.
“I feel incredible gratitude for Homer,” said Mikela. “I feel like this is a dream come true. Being able to do what we love, in a place we love. We are thrilled about it every day.”
The Spit Sisters Cafe on the Homer Spit now carry Mikela and Gabe’s fresh daily delivered bagels.
The Bagel Shop is open Tuesday-Friday 6 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Homestead Restaurant
Owners: Rick and Sharlene Cline
Location: Mile 8.2 East End Road
Hours: 5 p.m.- 10 p.m. daily
Menu: Steaks, duck, seafood, salads, appetizers, desserts
Husband and wife team Rick and Sharlene Cline have owned The Homestead Restaurant since 2005, both working as employees there before that. The Clines are adamant about their local and organic menu, and have developed a strong code for the restaurant.
“We believe in the farm-to-table philosophy, so we proudly support Alaskan fishermen, farmers, brewers and winemakers,” said Sharlene.
With an extensive and sophisticated menu, Homestead also offers a full bar.
“Our shaker margaritas are a local favorite,” said Sharlene. The couple was awarded the Wine Spectator restaurant wine award for their diverse wine list and weekly feature wine program.
The Homestead is open 5 p.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Two Sisters Bakery
Owners: Sharon Roufa and
Location: 233 E. Bunnell Ave.
Hours: Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday 9 a.m.-
2 p.m. Dinner service is Wednesday-Saturday 6-9 p.m.
Menu: Baked goods, sandwiches, wraps, salad, soup; available during dinner service: pasta, seafood, beer, wine
Co-owners of Two Sister’s Bakery Sharon Roufa and Carri Thurman have seen the predictions of a fast-paced summer already unfolding.
“It was supposed to be a busier summer than last year and so far it is,” said Sharon. She said the cafe is working on a new metal sign, which will collaborate with the recent Old Town “beautification effort.”
Offering baked goods, espresso, lunch and breakfast items during the day, a dinner service is offered Wednesday-Saturday. The dinner menu includes pasta, seafood, beer and wine, and the ambiance is completed with table clothes and candles.
The cafe is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner service is 6-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
Vida’s Thai Food
Owners: Vida Bunchim
Location: 3835 East End Road, Pioneer Avenue, Homer Farmers Market
Hours: East End Road location: noon-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Pioneer Avenue location: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with the days still to be announced; Farmers Market location: Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and starting July 2, Wednesday 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Menu: Curry, stir fry, noodles, soup, salad, sandwiches
Vida’s Thai Food started out four years ago as a mobile food truck parked on the Homer Spit. In owner Vida Bunchim’s third season at East End Road, she also operates at the Homer Farmers Market and is opening a third location on Pioneer Drive starting in June.
“I have a different menu for the different locations,” said Vida. She parks her mobile truck at the Farmers Market from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays, and also will be there on Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. starting July 2.
Her new location will be across from Don Jose’s restaurant on Pioneer Avenue, open from 11 a.m-3 p.m. starting in June.
Although Thai food might be known for being spicy, Vida guarantees there is something on her menu to suit each person’s spice tolerance.
“That is the wonderful thing about Thai food,” said Vida. “Everything doesn’t need to be spicy, you could order mild or hot or not spicy at all. Some food is not even spicy, like the coconut soup.”
Owners: Dali Frazier and Colt Belmonte
Location: 59217 East End Road
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Menu: Sushi, steak, duck, salads,
Owners of Wasabi’s, Dali Frazier and her husband Colt Belmonte, like to switch things up on their menu regularly.
“We change our menu all the time,” said Dali. “We try to keep it different, and we change our halibut, chicken and salad special every week.”
The couple is insistent upon using local ingredients.
“We try to use local and organic foods as much as possible,” said Dali. “It is our number one priority.”
She said that salmon poki recently replaced the tuna poki because it’s a more sustainable and local product.
Dali said Wasabi’s full service bar is the biggest on the Kenai Peninsula. It offers 23 different sakes, a full wine list, 16 beers on tap and 15 specialty drinks.
Wasabi’s is open Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Young’s Downtown Inn and Oriental Restaurant
Owner: Bruce Lee
Location: 565 E. Pioneer Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Menu: Buffet and dining; chicken, spring rolls, seafood, noodles, salad, sushi
Bruce Lee has owned Young’s Downtown Inn and Oriental Restaurant for seven years, and said so far the season is already busier than last year.
On top of the many choices of Chinese and Japanese style food there also are the options of choosing the buffet-style meal, ordering off the menu or both.
Menu and buffet items include chicken, spring rolls, seafood, noodles, salad and sushi.
“A lot of our customers say we are number one in Alaska for chicken wings. People also like our Mongolian beef,” said Bruce.
Young’s Downtown Inn and Oriental Restaurant is opened 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
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