A Well-charted Course For Success

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - August 17, 2011
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Yana Deaton and Joey Cabell, owner, are still working to make Chart House better. Jo McGarry photo

I never feel like summer is quite complete without a visit or two to Chart House. The iconic restaurant, with its views of the Ala Wai boat harbor, has a nightly sunset that often appears tailor-made to fit the restaurant’s open windows. But what seems to be a fairly casual, effortless, welcoming atmosphere is actually the result of painstaking attention to detail and decades of hard work.

Joey Cabell, the restaurant’s owner, has had a well-documented and passionate affair with the ocean since he started surfing in Waikiki at the age of 7.

He’s applied the same intensity and focus to his restaurant, and has achieved outstanding success in an industry that’s as unforgiving as the ocean.

“We have good people some of them have been with us 38 years,” he says “And Scott Okamoto, the leader of the group, keeps everybody together.”

Respect, Cabell says, plays a big part in the Chart House philosophy.

“In my opinion, everything we do comes from respect. You have to earn it, of course, but when you’re working to earn the respect of the people around you, what happens is you become really concerned about the restaurant and the people who come in.”

Cabell got into the restaurant business in 1961 while enjoying a life of competitive skiing and surfing.

“I worked at Buzz’s Steak House in the ‘50s,” he says, “and I learned the business there.”

It seemed a natural progression to open an oceanside restaurant in Hawaii.

“I always wanted to be in this business and to stay in it,” he says. “I had an idea that if we kept everything high quality and stayed current, then we’d make it work.”

Forty-one years later, he still has the same commitment.

“We work on the restaurant every week to try to make it better,” he says. “It’s not something you can ever stop.”

And more than four decades after opening, he still enjoys dinner, a cocktail and the view as much as the tourists and locals.

“When Yana (Deaton) and I go, we enjoy a margarita (Joey’s Back Bar Margarita) and I think our Szechwan-style Kahuku prawns are the best in the country.”

He also enjoys what’s become one of the most popular pupu items on the menu: Kimi’s Firecracker Roll, a deconstructed sushi roll in a bowl warm sushi rice with ahi poke, shredded nori and a spicy house dressing.

Signature dishes at Chart House include steaks, prime rib, stuffed shrimp, lobster, a crustacean broil and herbcrusted ahi, and there’s a dry-aged Allen Brothers steak that Cabell thinks is “just about perfect.”

If you haven’t been to Chart House in a while, don’t let summer slip away before you make a visit. There’s a great sunset special that runs nightly for just $29.95 it includes appetizer, entrée and dessert. Service, sunset and a true sense of the aloha spirit are all served up free of charge.

Happy eating!

Chart House
1756 Ala Moana Blvd. charthousehonolulu.com

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