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By Steven Mark With tourism reopening in Hawaii we locals might be getting into a vacation state of mind, and local resorts and hotels are ready to cater to us with some kamaaina specials. It’s a chance to experience our beach resorts the way the rest of the world does — purely as places for fun and relaxation and places to enjoy that sense of “getting away from it all” — at affordable prices. Even people in the hospitality business are taking advantage of the opportunity. Monica Salter, vice president of corporate communications for Outrigger Hospitality Group, recently brought her family for a short stay at the Outrigger Waikiki, her first stay there ever despite having worked at the company for four years. For...

By Allison Schaefers It was a solid first day for the reopening of Hawaii tourism with 8,000-plus passengers coming through local airports — still only a little more than a third of October 2019’s daily domestic air traffic. State Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said about 30 flights arrived in Honolulu from out of state Thursday, compared with about 100 on any given day before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the islands. According to Hawaii Airports System data, some 51 trans-Pacific flights with the potential to fill roughly 10,319 seats among them were scheduled to have arrived Thursday throughout the state. Lt. Gov. Josh Green estimated as many as 8,300 passengers flew into Hawaii for opening day of the state’s pre-arrival testing program,...

The Rearview Mirror Insider by Bob Sigall Rob Roy’s restaurant Misae Hironaka told me, “Decades ago there used to be a restaurant called Rob Roy’s in Kailua. My family and I remember it fondly as it was our favorite night-out place. Do you have any history regarding that restaurant and its owner?” Rob Roy’s restaurant opened in 1969 at 26 Hoolai St. in Kailua (where a strip mall is today with a Subway and an L&L). It was a popular family restaurant. The owner was Chuck Fraser, who also owned Chip’s, Scotty’s Drive-In on Keeaumoku Street and in Pearl City, the Village Inn in Kahala, the Crouching Lion in Kaaawa and Hawaii Blueprint, which is still in operation. The restaurant’s namesake was Robert Roy MacGregor...

By Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies, Special to the Star-Advertiser With transpacific travel set to re-open next week, Hawaii Tourism Authority’s newly named President and CEO John De Fries said he estimates that between now and the end of the year, visitor arrivals will be a fraction of what they once were. “My estimate is we’re gonna have a daily average of about 5,000. Which is roughly 17% of what that daily average was a year ago. And I feel like it’s a small enough place to start so that we can perfect the systems that will protect the health and well-being of the workers and the work environment and the host environment that will host the guests,” he...

STORY BY: ANNE LEE | PHOTOS BY: REID SHIMABUKURO Genki Sushi has been in Hawaii for over 27 years and has been a popular restaurant loved by locals and tourists alike. The restaurant now boasts more than 360 restaurants around the world, even one in Kuwait! I was able to dine with their executive team that takes the lead on the menu at their Kapahulu location, which was the first one built outside of Japan. Before each season starts, they start talking about the menu and think up different ideas to bring forth a blend of Japanese and local flavors. They take a consensus from each Genki Sushi location, and ask their staffs what would be good to add to the menu. The goal is...

STORY BY: NICOLE MONTON Murphy’s Bar & Grill recently revealed its trifecta of options to hungry diners in celebration of the resumption of dine-in service. Now, fans of the joint can look forward to dine-in, dine-out or takeout. Of course, the dine-in and takeout parts make sense, but what exactly is dine-out? “We cut a hole,” owner Don Murphy starts with a laugh. “When we started doing takeout, people would come to the bar to pick up their food, but they didn’t feel comfortable coming into a crowded space. “So, I leased the space next to us, and cut a hole through the wall for food to pass through. That became our takeout place.” For more information check out our  Dining In feature in...

By Review by Nadine Kam, Special to the Star-Advertiser For some, living under pandemic conditions has felt like time wasted in limbo. For others it’s been a time of reflection and redirection, a catalyst for change that may have taken longer to realize in less volatile times. As the new owner of Zia’s Caffe in Kaneohe, Micah Suderman knows the nearly 20-year-old institution has to evolve if it is to survive the next 20 years. Suderman, a certified sommelier and the director of restaurants and bars at the Royal Hawaiian resort, completed the restaurant purchase on Jan. 1, and had intended to keep working at the hotel while his wife, Sophany, managed Zia’s. For more information check out Crave in the Star-Advertiser...

By Review by Nadine Kam, Special to the Star-Advertiser The idea of resilience is abstract, easy to talk about, but most of us are accustomed to going about our daily business without facing obstacles that test our resolve. … Until now. Many are having to find new paths to make it through the pandemic, facing the resilience test and trusting that even as some doors close, others will open. Lance Kosaka was shocked and saddened when he learned in May that Top of Waikiki, where he was executive chef, would close rather than try to ride out a pandemic with no foreseeable end date. By then it was already clear that control of the disease would not come in months, but possibly years. For...

By Allison Schaefers The Hawaii Tourism Authority has hired its first Native Hawaiian president and CEO. Tourism industry veteran John De Fries is slated to start Wednesday. According to the terms of his contract, he’ll be compensated at almost the same rate as his predecessor, Chris Tatum, who left the agency Aug. 31 to “spend more time with family.” De Fries’ three-year contract, which ends Sept. 15, 2023, matches Tatum’s base annual salary of $270,000 in the first year, with an automatic 5% increase for each succeeding year of the contract. Like Tatum, De Fries won’t be entitled to join the state’s pension and retirement systems. However, he’ll get the same vacation, holiday and leave benefits as other state employees who are classified...

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM It’s easy to serve gourmet food when you add expensive ingredients to a dish, such as black truffles or caviar. The real challenge is to serve great food that people can afford to eat every day. Chef Martin Wyss, who owned the legendary Swiss Inn in Niu Valley, was known for cooking elegant comfort foods that were affordable. From 1982 to 2000, he and his wife, Jeanie, served basically the same menu from the day they opened. It included European specialties such as Trout Caprice, Croute Emmental, wiener schnitzel and cheese fondue — not usual Hawaii fare. One of the most popular dishes at the Inn was Emince de Veau, Zurich-style strips of tender veal with mushrooms in a...