Retro tiki chic coming to Royal Kona Resort
AN ICON of Tiki Americana is coming to the Royal Kona Resort after a $500,000 restaurant renovation. The hotel will open its former restaurant as a Don the Beachcomber restaurant, after the South-Pacific-kitsch-themed bar that first opened on Hollywood Boulevard in 1933.
By the time founder Donn Beach opened a Don the Beachcomber in Waikiki in 1946, he had a chain of restaurants and nightclubs serving food that was basically Americanized Chinese food, as opposed to authentic Polynesian, Micronesian or Melanesian or even Caribbean anything. He was wildly successful anyway. He died in 1989 in Ho-nolulu -- without a worldwide resolution to whether he or Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron actually invented the mai tai. It is credited to Beach as early as 1934 and to Bergeron some 10 years later.
But this column is about this Saturday's grand opening of Don the Beachcomber at the Royal Kona Resort, operated by Gary Hogan, executive vice president of Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts.
"We're excited about this major milestone," he said.
Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts owns the rights to the restaurant name, but the only other connection between Donn Beach's island-themed emporia and the Hogan family empire is that Gary Hogan's parents liked the Beachcomber vibe.
"Don the Beachcomber is our signature restaurant and it's associated with all the good things Hawaii has to offer. Its ambiance allows our guests to step back into a relaxed, unhurried era that my parents Ed and Lynn Hogan found attractive from the very beginning."
The Hogans founded Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays in 1959 and brought planeloads of visitors to the islands -- as well as sent Hawaii folk a-visiting on the mainland. In 1998, the Automobile Club of Southern California bought a majority stake in the company, which has since been renamed Pleasant Holidays.
Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts' first Don the Beachcomber opened in the 1970s in Lahaina and reopened in 1993 after some renovations.
The Kona eatery and watering hole is feeling lucky since it stole, er, hired Chef Mikel Lamb from Clint Eastwood's Hog's Breath Inn Restaurant & Bar in Carmel, Calif.
On grand opening night, from the restaurant's exhibition kitchen, chef and crew will feed 200 guests -- who will have donated $50 each for the Children's Justice Center of West Hawaii. The center will receive $10,000 toward its mission of serving children suffering from abuse.
The 4,500-square-foot restaurant can seat 170 diners and mai tai enthusiasts, whether or not they care who invented the rum beverage.
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