Larry Price and Michael W. Perry have hosted their Saturday morning breakfast show for KSSK radio for the past 19 years in the Sheraton-Waikiki Hanohano Room.

Perry and Price show
seeks new restaurant

Renovation of the Hanohano Room
will start after Thanksgiving

KSSK radio's Perry and Price Saturday morning breakfast show is looking for a new broadcast home after a 19-year-run in the Sheraton-Waikiki Hanohano Room.

The restaurant is going to be renovated and rethemed, "primarily as a steak house" to be operated by the hotel, according to B.J. Whitman, director of public relations for the Sheraton-Waikiki Resort and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The restaurant will keep the name it has borne since it opened in 1971.

"It's not really going to fit the configuration of what the Perry and Price Show is used to," she said.

Without giving an exact date, Whitman said the renovation would begin right after Thanksgiving but that the hotel would "help them out in any way possible during the transition," such as with an alternate, temporary location for the three-hour live broadcast.

Hosted by Michael W. Perry and Larry Price and simulcast on AM 590 and FM 92.3 from 8 to 11 a.m., the show has been a popular venue for wedding and baby showers, family gatherings, class reunions and other celebrations. It has also been a prime publicity opportunity for celebrities, community organizations and businesses, not the least of which was the Hanohano Room itself.

The restaurant has seen better days, despite its reputation and its sweeping views of Waikiki "32 stories above the beach," as the broadcast intro goes.

"Prior to 9/11 it was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner," Whitman said.

Aside from the broadcast breakfast buffet, the restaurant is now open only for dinner.

"Operating a food and beverage outlet has been a challenge, not just for Sheraton but I'm sure everywhere," she said.

Staffing and other expenses for the once-a-week breakfast had become prohibitive, despite the almost weekly sell-outs at $19.95 a head with a 250-seat capacity. The show takes one Saturday off each month.

"I think we had a signature restaurant that was very expensive, marketing itself out of the market. Now we are looking at trying to find a theme and a menu that will put us back in and make us profitable," said Whitman. "It's all a bottom-line issue."

The planned steakhouse theme of the Hanohano Room may not bring lower prices. Restaurant industry trade publication Nation's Restaurant News reported this week that beef prices have increased between 20 and 40 percent over the past year and that the costs have largely been passed on to consumers.

Despite the end of a long and profitable relationship, there are no hard feelings, according to Chuck Cotton, Hawaii market manager for Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc.

"We're going to find a suitable place and the show will go on. It's sold out almost every week," he said.

Sheraton is not currently in the running for permanent hosting duty.

"They would have ballrooms and I think that there are better opportunities than just putting it in a ballroom. We need a great room with a spectacular view and we want to see what else is out there," Cotton said.

Other considerations for a venue include sight-lines between audience members and Perry, Price and guest performers, "and then the sound is obviously a consideration; not everybody has a sound system," he said.

The show has 100,000 listeners in addition to the live audience members on Saturday mornings.

"Somebody has to be receptive to the idea. Not every restaurant is equipped to or wants to serve breakfast Saturday morning," Cotton said. "It is obviously a great opportunity for a restaurant to show off what they can do and expose their menu to a large group of people most Saturday mornings. We do 40 shows a year."

Neither Cotton nor Whitman would reveal financial details of the arrangement, but it is known to be lucrative.

"But the real benefit for the place ... is the incredible amount of free publicity. How many times a week do we mention it?" said co-host Perry.

"It's a gazillion dollars worth of free publicity. Run that past the CFO. It's all about the incredible opportunity to brand a Saturday morning buffet," he said.

Breakfast foods generally provide a restaurateur higher margins than other meals.

None of the hoteliers or restaurateurs contacted by the Star-Bulletin had heard that the relocation of the Perry and Price show was a sure thing, but some have heard and have expressed interest, according to Perry.

"We are getting a lot of offers, but we have to make sure it's the perfect place for the listeners, for the folks who come to the show.

"We want them to have a good time. We want them to have a good experience," he said.

The live Saturday broadcast of the Perry and Price morning show started in 1983 at what was then Champeaux's atop the Ilikai.

It seated between 70 and 90 people, recalled Suzi Mechler, former operations manager for KSSK.

"We all sweated," she said, as station officials were unsure if the Perry and Price pairing would draw a paying crowd.

While each was already a veteran broadcaster, the team was relatively new following the death of morning radio legend Hal "Aku" Lewis earlier in the year.

The first and only guest for the first broadcast was Wally "Famous" Amos. Perry and Price have since hosted stars from Hollywood and Broadway to local community theater.

Mechler, now vice president at The Mountain Apple Co., credits the team for being such a draw that the crowd outgrew Champeaux's and the show moved to the Hanohano Room after about a year.

"After 19 years, it's remarkable. Mike and Larry should be credited for keeping it a Saturday morning party," she said.

The party atmosphere comes from Perry and Price themselves.

"We actually love doing the Saturday morning show because it's fun, it really is," Perry said.


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