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Struggling for steak at Wolfgang's


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POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009

The new Wolfgang Steak House in the Royal Hawaiian Center threw itself an opulent VIP opening Thursday, with owner Wolfgang Zwiener in from New York.

Waiters hand-carried platters of porterhouse cut up pupu style, and got mobbed. "People are hungry," said server Brandon Lee, carrying a platter picked clean down to the bone. He seemed lucky to escape with his white shirt and bow tie intact. "It's dangerous back near the bar."

Actually, the best place to get food was a front table where Dog Chapman sat with state Rep. Tom Brower, attorney Brook Hart and Chapman's wife Beth, who's shed some pounds and looked quite nice in a tasteful blue Cache dress, although she did wear a huge pendant that said, "Property of Dog."

Chapman excused himself to go smoke outside. Since the table was open to the air, I suggested he might smoke right there: "If you get in trouble, Brook can defend you."

"He can't defend him from me," said Beth.

 

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

Last October, Hawaii's hottest young painter, Jason Teraoka, got laid off from the Contemporary Museum, where he worked on the installation crew.

"That was a bummer, of course," he says, "but I've used the time." Wisely. First, marrying sculptor Tracy Gunn, and then painting up a storm.

He's the poster artist for a show of young figurative artists, currently running at the Massachusetts College of Art.

Thursday, he and Gunn flew off to Seattle, to open a solo exhibit of his work at the James Harris Gallery. "I'm making my way," says the young painter, "slow and steady, no huge breakthroughs, but that's better than nothing."

 

i'm not dead yet!

"I thought you were dead," I said. Not the most tactful greeting, but I hadn't seen former Star-Bulletin business reporter Russ Lynch in well over a decade, when I ran into him at the Hawaii Publishers Association's mixer, at Murphy's on Tuesday.

"I'm not," said Lynch, who looked hale and healthy, having retired in 2003 and spent a great deal of time helping out the Kailua YMCA. "I spend so much time there, I actually joined."

Lynch was an 'Old School' reporter. Once in the age before cell phones, I was lunching (a euphemism) with him and a crowd at the infamous Round Table at the Columbia Inn. The waitress brought a phone over to the table. One of Lynch's sources. "Wait a minute," said Lynch, suddenly all business, "those numbers don't jibe with what you told me this morning."

 

How To Talk To Women

J. Arthur Rath, Don Ho's Kamehameha roommate, has been writing a series of articles for HawaiiReporter.com.

"They didn't have anything about Hawaiians," he says. "Being da kine, I write about da kine."

He wrote in one essay that the late Don Ho knew the secret of how to talk to women, the secret that made him, among other things, the darling of grandmothers across America.

But Rath didn't divulge what the secret was. I called immediately.

"Don always said that men always interrupt, want to talk about themselves," said Rath. "The secret's simple: Ask questions and listen to the answer. It helps if you're smiling and actually interested in what they have to say."

 

Cayetano Confidential

Former Gov. Cayetano's "Ben: A Memoir" was a surprise for two reasons.

First, I was surprised the 565-page tome ever got finished, since it was originally scheduled for before the 2006 elections. "Writing's a lot of work," said Cayetano when I called him.

Second, I was surprised how good it was, compelling, honest and highly readable. "I read a lot of local memoirs first, including Ariyoshi's," said the former gov. "I thought they lacked candor."

Ben lays it out on the line, his uncertain parentage, his mother's drug addiction, the misery his brother endured for being gay. "The only thing I glossed was why my first marriage failed," he says, "'cause I didn't want to go into it."

Political junkies will love all the inside scoops on politics past, but for everyone else, this is a honest book about real life in Hawaii.

 

Party Powerhouse

"I'm in the business of making people happy," says David Beahm, dipping into the lobster guacamole at the Mai Tai Bar of the Royal Hawaiian.

The 1,000 or so people Beahm currently needs to make happy are the ones who'll shell out $350 March 7 for the gala reopening of the Royal Hawaiian.

The hotel hired Beahm, who planned the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. He was called a "party-planning powerhouse," by Bride Magazine, which named him one of the top 25 trendsetters of 2008, along with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bobbi Brown and Oscar de la Renta.

Beahm is pretty low-key and down-to-earth for a guy who owns a white tux with pink lapels and throws parties for the rich and famous. "I never talk about my clients, ever, ever. They're sensitive."

He seems excited about the hotel's fundraising gala. "I want to go from the expected to the unexpected. We'll start with champagne on the lawn and end up dancing on the beach."

Beahm's inviting a few "great friends" - soul singer India.Arie, former wrestler and actress Stacy Keibler ("The Weapon of Mass Seduction"), petulant TV chef Rocco DiSpirito. The headliner in the Monarch Room ("the most unique ballroom I've ever seen," says Beahm) will be smooth trumpeter Chris Botti.

"Everyone will find something to make them happy," says Beahm. "I guarantee it."

 

John Heckathorn is editor of Hawaii Magazine and director of integrated media for the aio Group.