POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 24, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:27 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011
Shocker! The Colony Restaurant will close Thursday after 35 years of serving steak, seafood and memorable experiences to visitors and residents alike.
OK, maybe it's not a shocker as much as it is a surprise to folks who didn't put two and two together when the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa announced its multimillion-dollar renovation plan in late January — because they absolutely disclosed that changes were coming to the dining options, among other things.
The Colony, the classic eatery on the Diamond Head side of the second floor, will make way for something that won't be a dining venue, said Laura Van Sciver, marketing communications manager.
Shor has opened in place of Ciao Mein, while Asian fusion restaurant Japengo and Swim, a pool-side lounge with pan-Latino cuisine, will open in the fall.
The Colony will give away prizes on the last three nights of service, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and on that last night, complimentary champagne will be served. All 200 seats could be filled to capacity in the coming nights. Dinner is served nightly from 6 to 10 p.m.
The hotel's Facebook fans also may get in on the prizes and, toward that end, are encouraged to post Colony farewell comments.
"This is a bittersweet moment," said Food and Beverage Director Vincent Brunetti in a statement. "For many, visiting Colony before it closes will be a way to honor and explore Hyatt, as well as exploring Waikiki's past and future at the same time."
The restaurant's average check is $46 per person, compared with the estimated $25 average check when it opened in 1976.
Billed as "Waikiki's best-kept secret," the hotel claims the Colony serves the island's only Torched Sushi, as well as prime cut filet mignon, rib eye, New York strip steaks and fresh, kiawe-grilled seafood.
Bartender Eddie Kim has an electrical engineering degree he has never used, but having been named the Food and Beverage Person of the Year by the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association in January, using that degree might not have been his destiny anyway. Having worked at the Hyatt for nearly 36 years, he has tended bar at various venues and is one of the hotel's tour guides to its past.
If you are of a certain age, prepare for a flood of memories.
Kim poured in the Hana Hou Showroom, prepared libation in the fine-dining Bagwell's 2424 "and from there went to Spats." Yes, the disco. "That was back in the day. … This is like, a history" of the Waikiki night life, he mused.
He has tended bar at the Colony nearly 30 years, "maybe 27, 28, 29 — something like that," he said.
At 61 he's too young to retire and has been advised against it by his wife, Sharon, who retired a couple of years back.
"It's so boring," she told him.
After Thursday's closing Kim will get a short break and then begin training to become a mixologist for Japengo "in the mix with all the rest of the guys. … We've got a good crew. The young bartenders are terrific. In fact, a lot of them can school me in the newer drinks," he chuckled. Yeah, but how many can mix a Rob Roy, Rusty Nail or Harvey Wallbanger without looking it up, one wonders.
Kim's specialty is martinis, and service at the Colony Lounge begins at 5:30, half an hour before dinner. Martinis are $7 until 7 p.m., and the lounge is open nightly until 10 p.m.
Colony has been Kim's "home away from home," and on that level its closing is sad, but he likens the change to moving from a familiar, comfortable home to a new place. "You hate to move from your old one," but the prospect of moving to a new one is "exciting," he said. Bidding aloha to longtime customers and regulars will be sad. "I just hope they continue to come back," said Kim.
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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by email at email@example.com.