Young entrepreneur to spread Hawaii-themed wings
REGAN Derrickson has one more government hearing before he can move forward with Nalu and Ponos, his two new restaurants, in a prime beachfront spot -- in Dewey Beach, Del.
"There's no greater theme than Hawaiian at a beach resort," said the 27-year-old entrepreneur. His family entrenched in the Atlantic coastal town's hospitality industry, as owners of the Heritage Inn & Golf Club and the Sandcastle Motel in Rehoboth Beach, a mile away.
He ran the Heritage pro shop, helped his brother Spencer get his Rehoboth Beach sushi restaurant, Abstractions, off the ground in 2003, and has been managing the motel -- but now it's his turn.
"I'm the youngest of three brothers and this is my first project on my own," he said. "I'm very excited about it and I have a lot to prove," he said.
Nalu, meaning wave, or surf, will be a "Hawaiian surf bar and grill," Derrickson said. "The whole place opens up and there will be surfboards," and other Polynesian-themed decor.
The menu will include a "puka-dog" -- a toasted sesame seed bun wit' one puka insai. Da dog goes insai-da-puka and you can put anykine stuff on top, such as fruit salsas or more traditional condiments.
The 140-seat Nalu will serve lunch and dinner and have a luau night, focused on fun, family dining as opposed to a Spring Break vibe, Derrickson said.
Nalu may be seasonal, open from St. Patrick's Day to Thanksgiving, while Derrickson may operate Ponos' dinner-only service year-round.
Ponos will be a 101-seat fine-dining restaurant with a rainforest-inspired interior with waterfalls and Hawaiian flowers.
People in Delaware are surprised to hear Hawaii has a fine-dining scene to emulate, but they have "applauded" his plans and he has faced no opposition, confirmed by a building department official who asked not to be identified.
His next hearing is June 8, "and hopefully I'll be opening in April of oh-eight," Derrickson said.
Before then, some first-hand research is in order. Derrickson plans his first Hawaii trip early next year, visiting Maui, Oahu and the Big Island.
"I hear there's Spam everywhere," he said.
Yes, there is, your columnist told him, informing him that Hawaii eats more of the iconic Hormel product than any other state.
He also knows -- now -- that Hawaii is home to many James Beard Award-winning chefs.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, 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