A new kind of late-night MAC attack is destined for a Waikiki hotel
A DIFFERENT type of restaurant is about to open in the newly monikered Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio hotel, formerly the Radisson.
MAC 24-7, which stands for Modern American Cooking, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is also doing a very different grand opening, opening its doors at midnight Friday, Dec. 8, serving guests as the date changes to Dec. 9.
Menu items will be available any time of the day or night, enabling one to dine on lobster pot pie at 6 a.m. and pancakes at 11 p.m., should one's onos occur at odd hours. Those of a certain age will remember when the default diners for apres-disco divas and dudes were the Wailana and Zippy's.
MAC 24-7 will serve "classic American dishes, or comfort food, or whatever the term is this week," chuckled Jody Pennette, president of Connecticut-based cb5 Restaurant Group LLC. The company created the restaurant for the hotel.
However, it's not about linoleum, naugahyde-topped stainless steel, formica and fluorescent lighting. "The design and execution and scale and everything, the style of service, it's not a diner, it's not a coffee shop," he said.
Someone ordering pancakes shouldn't go it alone.
"The pancakes are really big. Probably most people will blush when they get served," Pennette admonished. Well, they are called MAC-daddy pancakes.
MAC 24-7 will have four 50-inch plasma-screen TVs for sporting events, and a private room can accommodate 14 people. It will have full bar service from 6 a.m. to 4 the next morning.
Pennette and his team opened restaurants for the Westin Maui in 2000, when cb5 was still a relatively new venture. It has since opened 90 unique restaurants but owns and operates only one of them, at the Hard Rock Casino in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
"Every restaurant we do for every client is different," said Pennette. "They can replicate them in their own hotels."
The idea behind MAC 24-7 was partly to serve visitors whose body clocks have not yet adjusted to Hawaii time.
"I'd look around and there would be all these (hotel room) lights on at 5 a.m.," Pennette said.
"When you first come there, the six-hour time difference takes a day or two to shake off." MAC 24-7 gives the hotel a round-the-clock kitchen to feed guests, and provides an alternative to Waikiki's ubiquitous pineapple-topped-this and macadamia-crusted-that, he said.
Pennette and hotel management hope it will become a local favorite, but he hopes further that hospitality and restaurant industry folks will make it a preferred hang, "because they're great customers."
Pennette's not into rock-star-chef-driven restaurants for cb5. "This is concept-driven. A clean, pure idea that is executed with some style," he said.
He counsels chefs to be like guitarist Eric Clapton. "(Clapton) lays it in there at just the right spot to show you he's got it, but he doesn't have to show off," Pennette said.
"Nobody can say no to a perfectly cooked chicken," he said. "It doesn't have to be stacked up with a sparkler and a feather."
Also, a diner's experience comes from their relationship with the server, he said, and cb5 believes in matching diners with servers.
"Four guys in bow ties with briefcases" are going to want the efficient female waitress, while "six women who come in for Betty's farewell," will treasure the memory of the "flamboyant waiter who's a real cut-up," he said. "We coach that."
A quote from hotelier Ian Schrager, "Our goal is to make our customers' spirits soar," has become a mantra for Pennette and his team. "That's really powerful. That's so much more than giving them lunch."
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