New restaurant evokes namesake's sensibilities


POSTED: Thursday, December 17, 2009

The new restaurant that will replace Sergio's Italian Restaurant in the old Sam Choy's Diamond Head space at 449 Kapahulu Ave., Suite 201, may bring back some old, comfortable memories.

It will be called The Ranch House.

Restaurants Hawaii LLC managing member and President Gary Manago chose the name purposely, to evoke fondness among kamaaina nostalgic for the old Ranch House in Aina Haina as well as its sister restaurants in the Spencecliff chain.

“;We're working with Chantal Weaver,”; daughter of late restaurant empire-builder Spence Weaver, Manago said.

“;We knew that the name would bring back memories ... and that's the reason we had been talking with her. In fact, some of the things that you will see in the restaurant will tie in with the old Ranch House.”;

It will reopen in the last week of January and will be all about comfort food.

“;Comfort food, to me, is what it's all about, and not having to break the bank,”; Manago said.

“;With the economy being what it is, people still want to go out and eat and get good value, something that will make them feel good.”;

Comfort and budget foods popped up on menus all across America in 2009, including at high-end restaurants.

In the new year, “;we will continue to see a variety of comfort foods that emotionally connect with the customer,”; said Victor Gielisse, associate vice president of business development for the Culinary Institute of America, in ProChef SmartBrief, an industry newsletter.

The Ranch House will feature prime rib, steaks and specials such as oxtail soup, but not in a white-tablecloth, get-dressed-up kind of setting.

It will be very casual, Manago said. “;As long as you have a shirt, pants and footwear,”; you can come in.

Manago hopes to rehire as many of the roughly 30 employees who worked at Sergio's as he can and will begin hiring right after the holidays.

Including the banquet room, The Ranch House will be able to seat about 130 diners and there are four tables on an outdoor lanai overlooking the Ala Wai Golf Course. Reservations and walk-ins will be welcome.


Halekulani hailed as tops

Halekulani is the No. 1 hotel in Hawaii, according to the 2010 T+L 500 list of top hotels in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. The hotel is No. 41 on the world list and was No. 44 last year.

Proving that world travelers can be a fickle bunch and that reader surveys fall where they may, the No. 27 hotel last year, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, is ranked No. 63 this year and at No. 83, Hotel Hana-Maui and Honua Spa was ranked 68th last year.

The entire Top 100 list is obscured online, but the Top 25 in Hawaii list and many other lists can be viewed on the Web or in the print edition available Christmas Day.


TV show gets down to business

”;Career Changers TV”; will debut at 7 tonight on OC16, the all-local channel on Oceanic Time Warner Cable. The show, produced by Ron Darby and Rich Figel, was previewed here in July and is geared toward job hunters and startup businesses. The show's premiere coincides with the launch of its Web site, which has several resources for job seekers.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).