Legendary Kona restaurant gets new owner
KONA'S historic Ocean View Inn served its last meals in August and closed its doors after more than 70 years of operation as a family run restaurant. It has been sold to a California-based restaurateur and his partner, who plan to open their own seafood establishment.
The Ocean View Inn was put up for sale partly because owner Ronald Kam wanted to retire. Two buyers came through, but the deals didn't work out. The third time was the charm, said Bill Lally, vice president at CB Richard Ellis Hawaii Inc., a broker in the deal.
Second-generation restaurateur Sabu Shake J.R. -- he goes by J.R., not junior -- and a buddy formed a partnership for the $2.35 million purchase. Shake owns three seafood restaurants in Monterey, Calif.: the Fish Hopper on Cannery Row, the Old Fisherman's Grotto and Kokomo's on Fisherman's Wharf.
Old Fisherman's Grotto was where Shake grew up, literally. His father, the late Sabu Shake Sr., established the eatery in the 1950s.
Shake's friend Pat Corrigan, a real estate developer and mortgage broker based in Monterey, had purchased a home on the Kona side of the Big Island and "he's the one who drew me out to Kona," Shake said.
Shake also bought a home in the area about a year ago.
The two decided to combine forces and look for a property to expand the Fish Hopper concept.
"We were actually looking at another location and my partner and I didn't want to get into a leasehold (situation), we wanted real property. It's such a rare opportunity that that becomes available on the waterfront, I mean, anywhere. We just thought it was an opportunity that we shouldn't miss."
Shake and Corrigan hope to open in four to five months and have begun the permitting and liquor approval process. The partners will keep the overall look of the building "kind of plantation, Kona village. We're not doing any structural changes to the building," Shake said.
An architectural and interior designer will guide renovation work inside the restaurant, which will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for up to 140 diners. A staff of about 70 will be hired and trained by Shake's executive chef and bar manager.
"They've fallen in love with the restaurant. They're going to help me train and set up."
The menu will be similar to the Monterey Fish Hopper, which serves "California and Pacific Rim (style dishes), a combination of both. We're already serving 'local' dishes, fish dishes that come from Hawaii, ahi, ono, mahimahi, opakapaka, Hawaiian swordfish."
Steaks and salads and "our world-famous clam chowder -- it's award-winning," will also be on the menu.
"It will be our menu with a local flair," said Shake.
He met the former operators of the Ocean View Inn and was moved. "I was glad for them because they worked so hard. The family reminded me kind of our family, but it was kind of sad that their legacy had to shut down, because they had been there for so long," Shake said.
It was because of that hard work that Ocean View Inn became such a local institution for generations, he said.
"They are a very nice family and reminded me so much of my dads hard-work ethic. They were there 24/7 and everybody knows the location," Shake said.
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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: email@example.com