Ready For Roy’s In Waikiki

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - April 18, 2007
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Roy Yamaguchi, Roy, Ronnie Nasuti and Jackie Lau
Roy Yamaguchi, Roy, Ronnie Nasuti and Jackie Lau

When you think about going out for a really expensive dinner, what’s your budget? $100? $200? How about $400,000?

That’s what someone just paid for dinner at Roy Yamaguchi’s Scottsdale restaurant. Admittedly, the guest of honor will be Muhammad Ali, but with only eight seats at the table, that still brings the tab to $50,000 per head.

The high-priced dinner was up for auction last week at the annual Celebrity Fight Night, an event that raises funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. The evening has become well-known for its pricey fantasy items and for the ever-increasing list of millionaires and other wealthy patrons willing to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars for dinner with a celeb. Happy to put up the dough for dinner was Bob Parsons, the flamboyant CEO of

Last year, dinner and an LA Lakers game with Magic Johnson went for $80,000, as did dinner with Paul Newman. And dinner at Roy’s in Scottsdale last year, without Ali, went for $60,000.

“I was kind of impressed with that amount, to tell you the truth,” says the amiable Roy Yamaguchi with typical humility. “This year, though, I did anticipate that it would sell for quite a a bit more.”

Ali was unable to leave his seat during the silent auction, due to decreasing health, but Yamaguchi and the champ’s wife, Lonnie, took center stage and watched as the bidding went from expensive to extraordinary. “Muhammad is such an incredible guy that people just want to be around him,” said Roy. “You look into his eyes and he has this presence that’s really something.”

Yamaguchi will be in Scottsdale the night of the dinner. “It’s really an honor to be able to raise money this way,” he says.

For fans of the talented Yamaguchi, dinner will be served from April 23 at his new Waikiki location, and Yamaguchi is enthusiastic about being in the new heart of Waikiki. “We feel that this is going to be the Waikiki of the future,” says Roy, ” and we very much want to be a part of that.”

Devotees of Roy’s will be happy to know that one of the great restaurant managers of all time, Diva Schroeder, will be moving to Waikiki in charge of operations. I’m looking forward to trying the new location, but Roy’s, Hawaii Kai continues to be one of my all-time favorite restaurants, principally because the staff is such a pleasure to watch at work. Jackie Lau, now the corporate chef of Roy’s, Hawaii started there at the incredibly young age of 23, and today Ronnie Nasuti (he of the movie star good looks and impressive culinary talent) heads a vibrant, enthusiastic team that continues to create exciting, cutting edge food - even after all these years.

I made it a New Year’s resolution to eat there once a month, to remind myself what great restaurants are all about and to tap into some of that incredible, edible energy.

Happy eating!

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