Erika Engle

The new and old
in Kaimuki restaurants;
veteran broker quits

The space formerly occupied by Mongolian Bar-B-Que at 1145 12th Ave. is undergoing a complete renovation to make way for a San Francisco-style bar and grill, "but without the bar," according to Kevin Hanney, owner of Kokohead Foods Ltd. The new restaurant is using 12th Avenue Grill as its working dba, akin to the working title of a movie that is subject to change.

It won't have a bar, but he will seek a beer and wine license.

"The food will be kind of hearty and robust food ... roadhouse-type cooking," Hanney said.

Think rib-sticking. "It'll be flavorful. Maximum flavor, minimum fuss," he said. "Comfort food."

Hanney is looking to open in mid-February, but he's seen the reality shows about restaurants opening such as "Jamie's Kitchen" on Food Network where operators face a slew of delays due to challenges in building, equipping and staffing new eateries. "I figure if it can happen to somebody like him ..."

Meanwhile, back at the Alfred Tam building leasing headquarters, Mongolian Bar-B-Que matters have yet to be resolved.

"We are in litigation," said attorney Randall Ching, representing Sylvianne Wong and Donna Mae Tam, sisters who are members of the family that owns the building.

The dispute is over back rent owed by Mongolian, which is why the lease was not renewed, Wong said.

"We couldn't see doing another five-year lease and not collecting anything," Wong said. "It wasn't a matter that we couldn't reach an agreement, we just got really tired of chasing them. We really gave them chance after chance after chance."

Mongolian Bar-B-Que President G.G. Lau took issue with the characterization. The company repeatedly offered to pay the back rent, she said.

Wong and Tam said they were offered pennies on the dollar.

"It's settled already, the lawyers are handling it," Lau said. Lau's attorney, Bert Kobayashi Jr., did not respond to a request for comment.

Wong and Tam say neighboring restaurants are consistently busy but that didn't seem to be true for Mongolian Bar-B-Que.

"We gave them every encouragement," praising them for advertising efforts, Wong said.

The sisters are confident that Hanney will do well.

"He's a caterer right now and has excellent credentials," Wong said.

Kokohead Foods caters private parties and film projects and has a signature food item, smoked ahi spread, which is available at select stores. Hanney has been in the catering business since 1995, previously under the company name Culinary Adventures. Kokohead Foods was established in 1999.

Hanney's landladies, Tam and Wong, run another business in the family building, The Crafty Bear.

The store is like a craft fair every day, the sisters said. Sylvianne and Donna Mae are crafters who sell their handiwork, as well as the products of about 30 crafters from around Oahu. The store carries ribbon leis, ceramic pieces and something called zori floor wipers. They enable the wearer to clean the floor while standing upright and bid goodbye to hands and knees scrubbing drudgery.

Pothul pau

Veteran commercial real estate dealmaker Doug Pothul is "no longer associated with Colliers Monroe Friedlander Inc.," said the e-mail from the former senior vice president yesterday.

"After 17 years with the firm, I have decided to seek more fertile ground," it said.

Pothul's resignation on Friday was emotional, he said. He appreciates the tutelage of President Andrew Friedlander. "But it's time to parlay that into something bigger and better than making money for other people," he said.

He has no plans, and is not going to PM Realty like everybody else seems to be, he told TheBuzz.

There is no noncompete clause to prevent a move to another commercial real estate company.

"I haven't talked to anybody," he said. "If I was going to work for someone, I would have stayed where I was. I don't see any benefit in jumping shops.

"If I stay in the business, in commercial real estate in any capacity, I will be involved at some level with the company. After 17 years, I've got a pretty big book of business, and there's no sense in letting those that have been my competitors pick up the business that easily.

"My business has been helping people, and I like helping people."

Pothul is 41 and has a degree in health, fitness and athletic training.

Friedlander did not return calls.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, 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:


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