Crouching Lion to pounce back to life
The historic Crouching Lion Inn
will reopen to the public after a private grand opening June 21.
Alan Huie has bought the land and business from the kamaaina Thurston family for an undisclosed amount.
An entertainment law attorney for 18 years in San Francisco, "my dream was to come to Hawaii to retire ... and start a second career," Huie said.
He started 11 months ago with TropicAina, formerly Ahi's, in Punaluu.
Huie will keep the name Crouching Lion Inn as it is "so well-known, there's no point," in changing it.
He is ebullient about restoring the restaurant's glory - but not its interior look.
Dark paneling has been taken down and some was recycled for a counter around the bar.
He wants to "lighten it up as much as possible."
"The walls are painted light colors and right now I'm putting in a new tile floor for the main dining room," he said.
Orchids, palms and other plants will give an indoor garden feeling and three windows will provide a 180-degree view of the ocean from the bar, for which he hopes to have a liquor license by opening.
Another major change was to resolve the matter that forced its closure in December. He paid $100,000 to comply with an old Environmental Protection Agency order to install a new septic system.
The closure was supposed to be temporary, said Frank Michael Abreu, the previous lessee and restaurant and gift shop operator. He and the Thurston family agreed that a traditionally slow season would be a good time to close for the septic work.
Instead, some 35 employees, many of whom had worked there for decades, wound up jobless right before Christmas.
"I wanted to reassure them that they'd have their jobs back. Unfortunately, I wasn't given that opportunity," Abreu said.
When the closure was reported, the Thurston family received purchase offers including Huie's.
Abreu's lease "was terminated," Abreu said, resulting in a legal dispute with the Thurston family that does not involve Huie.
The new Crouching Lion Inn will be open for lunch and dinner with a primarily American and continental menu. "I hope to bring back some old favorites," he said.
"I'm ... very excited. This is like a dream come true. I want to bring back the former glory of this location and this restaurant business."
Huie has read the online recollections of founder John M. Lind, its first operator and father of former Star-Bulletin reporter Ian Lind. Huie knows it became a destination restaurant for people across the island.
"My goal is to make it a worldwide attraction but also make it part of this community, part of this island, for everyone."
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