Erika Engle

Thursday, November 13, 2003

One Italian eatery
closes, another expands
offerings, outlets

ScooZee's Italian restaurant at Ward Centre closed its doors Sunday after a long downward spiral.

Leasing officials would not go into detail but said it got to a point where the 12-year-old restaurant was no longer profitable.

Months ago, another restaurant operator trying to take over the space offered to pay off the debt, but it never happened.

Over the summer, ScooZee's liquor license expired and was not renewed, but the restaurant served guests complementary wine with meals.

Financially ailing ScooZee's Italian restaurant in Ward Centre finally was forced to go out of business.

Expansion of the ScooZee's brand, which started in June of last year with a small express deli on Bishop Street, was short-lived. The phone number has been changed or disconnected and former chiropractor Robert Gallagher, who operated as a ScooZee's licensee, could not be reached.

ScooZee's did business under the parent company PRL 'Ekolu, LLC, named with a wink by owner Richard Swartz. PRL stands for Poor Richard's Limited.

Shortly after ScooZee's liquor license expired, Swartz told TheBuzz that the bright spot in his business life was his bakery operation, named Kakaako Bakers LLC, which is a separate entity and provides breads and other baked goods to hotels and restaurants. He was planning to expand that operation at the time.

Wife and partner Marlene Among deferred questions to Swartz, who did not return calls for this column.

Boston's getting bigger

Boston's North End Pizza Bakery is going to Maui. It is also going to Monsarrat and Campbell avenues, which will be the No. 9 location for the self-proclaimed pizza pirates.

"We're partners with, compadres with Aloha Petroleum," said Chief Executive Officer Tom Rossi.

"Wherever they go, we get options to go with them."

The Hawaii Kai Boston's sits at another old gas station site.

"We're going to put coffee -- a drive-in, drive-out coffee stand -- there in the next couple of weeks," he said.

The Maui store will be built on a 15,000-square foot parcel purchased for $780,000 next to the Home Depot on Dairy Road in Kahului.

For the cost of the land and projected build-out expenses, he could open seven other locations, but believes the Maui store will do very well "because there's no one around there."

Despite his desire to retire, Rossi keeps expanding the business and getting big ideas.

He's going to begin a takeout business for Italian dishes other than pizza and calzone.

"So you come in and get your lasagna, eggplant parmigiano or chicken cutlet to go and follow the directions," Rossi said. The entrees will come in microwavable containers.

The carry-out commestibili will first be available in deli cases in the Manoa store, then Pearl Ridge. If the line does well, he'll buy more deli cases for other stores and fill them.

Most of his locations are stand-alone and not bound to operate according to mall- or shopping center-required hours, but would he go into a space like ScooZee's?

Turns out he's given it some thought.

"I'd love to go there," he said.

It has high visibility and foot traffic and lots of potentially hungry customers given the expansion of the Ward complex, Rossi said.

As for the operational requirements being different from his other stores, he said, "You change your tactics after awhile."

"Years ago we never did credit cards," because the stores were too busy and the card process was too slow, he said. With increases in technology speeding up card processing and an increased number of stores serving diners' demand, the chain takes cards and derives 30 percent of its revenue through credit card transactions.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at:


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