Chef hopes to bowl over new diners
Restaurateur Tante Urban is going uptown, figuratively and literally.
Urban, the chef-owner of Tante's Restaurant at the bowling center in Kailua-Kona and operator of the employee cafeteria at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, will open Tante's Bar & Grill at Parker Ranch Center in Waimea.
"It will be the next level up," Urban said. "I feel honored to be able to be asked to get a chance to run (the restaurant)."
The space he is setting up in was known as the Parker Ranch Broiler "from the 70s," and for the last two years or so was called the Parker Ranch Grill.
It will be more upscale than his offerings at his Kona Bowl restaurant, but not too fancy for the families he hopes to feed. Not that Urban's offerings at Kona Bowl are anything at which to scowl. How many bowling alleys do you know of that serve salmon with capers?
"We'll be geared more to a family kind of atmosphere. The pricing will be moderate and we'll also feature Parker Ranch (grass-fed) beef," as well as Keahole lobster and Waimea-grown produce. Beyond steak and lobster, the restaurant will serve many local favorites in the style of the 25-year-culinary service veteran.
"We'd like to make it affordable to locals but at the same time it will be nice, the setting will be nice," he said. "I think everybody's going to love it."
He was fascinated to learn recently that Waimea is the No. 18 richest zip code in Hawaii and that 23 percent of its residents earn $100,000 or more a year.
The new Tante's, to open in December, will need 25 to 30 employees for breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner service. "We have a nice bar also and in the bar (as well as the dining room) there is a fireplace," Urban said. A separate meeting room can accommodate 50 people for meetings.
Urban was among six national honorees in the 10th annual Asian Entrepreneur of the Year Awards last year, but emphatically pointed out that he has partners in the new enterprise -- including his wife, Araceli. The Urbans' other partners are Chef Oscar Villacorta of the Four Seasons Resort Dallas-Fort Worth and Heidi Agunias of the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.
Urban is hoping to hook up with a local artist to provide new artwork. The center itself completed a $25 million renovation in 2003 and sports more than 30 stores. Income from the center supports the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust, which funds health care, educational and charitable organizations in the area.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org