Great Restaurant Week Deals

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - November 12, 2008
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Chef Keith Endo of Vino

Restaurants in Hawaii have had tough times before, but none as tough as these. Almost every day I’m hearing stories of owners dipping into savings to make payroll, not replacing staff members when they leave, taking extra duties upon themselves, and worst of all, closing their doors because the struggle to survive in this depressed (and depressing) economy is just too hard.

At some restaurants, chefs and owners are becoming more creative than ever. At Keo’s in Waikiki, for example, owner Keo Sananikone is offering 25 percent off his takeout menu so that his cook can keep busy and keep his job.

“He’s been with us for more than 30 years,” says Keo. “We don’t want to let anyone go, but with tourism down and a much slower pace, it’s hard for everyone.”

Offers like the one at Keo’s are popping up at restaurants all over town, and that’s why I’m encouraging you all to go out to eat. The timing of Hawaii’s first Restaurant Week, which runs Nov. 16-22, probably couldn’t be better.


“It’s a celebration of food and restaurants in Hawaii,” says organizer Conrad Nonaka. Certainly it has the most impressive list of committee members I’ve seen. Heavy hitters on the board include Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, Sam Choy, Warren Shon, George Szigeti and Paul Ah Cook along with dozens of restaurant owners and chefs.

Don Murphy is the committee’s chairperson. “What we’re hoping for,” says Murphy, “is that the week will be a great opportunity for people to get out and support their local restaurants and enjoy being part of a community event.”

Here’s how it works: Participating restaurants sign up and offer something different at their restaurant for the week of Nov. 16.

“There’s everything from discounted meals to specials entrees to free desserts,” explains Murphy, “and a portion of the proceeds will go to support culinary education in Hawaii.”

That means, at restaurants like Roy’s, guests can enjoy a three-course dinner for just $32, or at Chai’s Island Bistro you can claim a free appetizer with your entrée order. At Big City Diner locations, order a lunch or dinner entrée of shrimp scampi on linguine and pay just $10. And at Michel’s, enjoy a decadent Grand Marnier or chocolate soufflé free with dinner.

One of the best deals I found was at Vino, where from Nov. 16 guests will be able to order a four-course menu for $35. Keith Endo is the chef there and I just love his rustic, earthy approach to dishes like short ribs, pumpkin bisque, roasted beets and winter vegetables. Restaurant Week offers a great opportunity to go try Endo’s menu- and for $35 I’m not sure there’s a better deal around. Dozens of restaurants have already signed up and more are expected to join the party.

For more information, participating restaurants, or to sign up, go to

Happy eating!

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