Dining Out In These Tough Times

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - October 15, 2008
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Brasserie Du Vin owner Dave Stewart

I don’t know how most restaurants are managing to keep going these days. The recent collapse of the economy has affected everything from food costs to fuel bills, and it’s having a devastating effect on our restaurants.

One local restaurateur told me his electricity bill was $50,000 more than this time last year.

“And that’s with us using the same amount of electricity,” he said.

I hear fuel bills are being posted in kitchens across the state to encourage employees to take extra care in conserving electricity - and to show staff where the profits are going. With the small margins most restaurants run on, it’s impossible to think they’ll all be able to survive the pressures of this wild inflation. If ever there was a time to support your local restaurants, it is now.

I’ve said it many times before, but I believe restaurants to be the backbone of our community. When you need fundraising help for your school or favorite charity, chances are the first place you’ll turn to is a restaurant. A large percentage of restaurants in the

United States support their communities in some way, and the industry generates billions of dollars through its associated work force. Restaurants support so much more than just their own staff: p l u m b e r s , joiners, electricians, delivery drivers, farmers, the liquor industry, winemakers all rely on restaurants for much of their income.

Hawaii Restaurant Week is Nov. 16-22 and there’ll be an emphasis on local produce and new menus at participating restaurants.

With your support, and a conscious decision by all of us to eat out whenever we can, we can help restaurants get through this tough period.

The good news is that restaurateurs are a resilient bunch and new places continue to open. Chip Jewitt, owner of highly successful nightclub Pipeline Cafe, had a soft opening this past weekend of his new restaurant/lounge, Aria. Located at Century Center, Aria fills the void left when fine-dining restaurant The Bistro closed last year. Jewitt plans to style Aria as a dinner club with live entertainment.

General manager Joe Baradouche (formerly of Ruth’s Chris Steak House) says the restaurant will be a sophisticated place to eat, drink and hang out ...

And new to the space formerly occupied by Sam Choy’s Diamond Head on Kapahulu Avenue is Sergio’s Italian Restaurant. With an emphasis on family dining and high quality ingredients (a combination of local produce and imported Italian meats, cheese and olive oils), Sergio’s opened last week and hopes to attract diners eager to experience authentic Italian cuisine.

Free pizza is part of the service. “We want to encourage our guests to taste Chef Alfredo’s unique Tuscan pizza,” says owner George Vandeman, “so we’re bringing them slices as they order their drinks.”

Breads and pasta are all handmade and the bruschetta is some of the best you’ll taste.

And in case you haven’t heard, Chinatown wine bar Brasserie Du Vin was just named as one of the nation’s “Hot Ten” wine bars by Bon Appetit.

The magazine described owner Dave Stewart’s gorgeous bar as “offering a taste of the French countryside.” Du Vin has one of the best value happy hours in town - daily from 4 to 6 p.m. - and wines start at around $6 a glass. Specialties of the house include fabulous mussels with french fries, and fresh oysters.

Nothing makes supporting a restaurant easier than a plate of chilled oysters and a great glass of wine.

Happy eating!

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