Sunset Grill sold to Kapolei Assaggio owner, will keep name
Locally renowned restaurateur Fred Livingston has found a buyer for Sunset Grill, a charter tenant at Restaurant Row and its longest-lived restaurant.
The buyer is Nghiem Hang Nguyen, owner of Buono Pasto Assaggio in Kapolei.
Nguyen is a former partner of Thomas and Siri Ky, owners of the four-restaurant Assaggio Italian group, and now he just leases the space from the Kys, Siri told TheBuzz.
Sunset Grill's last night under Livingston's ownership is tonight, one of the busiest nights in the restaurant business. Livingston could not be reached for comment.
Nguyen will sign on the dotted line and take possession of the restaurant tomorrow. It will be closed "no more than 10 days" for a little remodeling work and he said he hopes to open by Feb. 24.
Nguyen will keep the name Sunset Grill, but the menu will change to what he calls continental food, different from the pasta and local dishes served at Buono Pasto Assaggio.
Nguyen was uncertain how many of Sunset Grill's employees he would hire. "I have to look at them first," he said.
The purchase price was not disclosed. Its listing by Colliers Monroe Friedlander cited a $150,000 price, plus the inventory of food, liquor and supplies. Monthly rent on the 4,213 square feet is $9,475.50 and operating expenses are $4,729, according to the listing.
Livingston bought Sunset Grill, established in 1988, from founders Dick and Monene Bradley in 1999. They were moving away from the islands to California, but have since purchased a second home on the Big Island.
Livingston announced his intention to sell Sunset Grill in November and said he'd sold Crouching Lion Inn in Kaaawa to spend more time concentrating on his real estate developments on the Big Island.
Livingston had previously sold Matteo's, and Trattoria and Davey Jones Ribs were closed, along with many other businesses, to make way for the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Walk project. Another of his restaurants, Tahitian Lanai, closed many years ago; the utterance of its name still draws a nostalgic sigh amongst kamaaina.
He's not getting out of the restaurant business completely, as he plans to keep Don Ho's Island Grill at Aloha Tower Marketplace. He bought it from impresario Shep Gordon in June 2002 for an undisclosed price.
Valentine's Day is known in the restaurant industry as "amateur night" because of the high number of customers who don't normally eat out, know very little about food or who are ill-behaved in restaurants, according to "Nation's Restaurant News."
It is also referred to sometimes as "two-top hell," according to the industry publication, since most of the diners arrive in couples to be seated two to a table.
Nevertheless, the story continued, Valentine's Day is an opportunity to turn first-time customers into regular customers.
Yeah well, there are lots of folks for whom La Mer, Chef Mavro and other haute cuisine salons is not in the budget.
Enter Papa John's Pizza.
Cardiologists mightn't be amused, but the pizza joint is making heart-shaped pizzas today, according to PR man Patrick Bullard.
"It's never been done here before, but it's kind of cool," he said. Some regulars have placed advance orders, but Bullard didn't divulge any names.
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