Chef Chai Chaowasaree has sold his Waikiki restaurant to a Korean businesswoman and plans to close the location after service on Saturday.
He has operated Chai’s Waikiki Hawaiian Fusion in addition to his Chef Chai restaurant at the Pacifica Honolulu building at 1009 Kapiolani Blvd., and near-daily catering operations for commercial ventures and private parties, “and I’ve been working seven days, every night, for I don’t know how long,” he said. “It’s too much for us,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The purchase offer “was a good offer,” one he couldn’t refuse, according to a post on Facebook. He did not disclose the purchase price, but said the deal is done.
Chaowasaree brought his aging mother to Hawaii from Thailand two years ago “and we just don’t have enough time together. I want to share every moment I can with her, she’s 84 and anything could happen.”
The timing and nature of the offer was perfect. “For me, that was the number-one reason we wanted to sell,” he said.
Employees at the Waikiki restaurant will continue their employment with Chai at his Pacifica location and his catering operations. “None of them is going to lose their job,” he said.
The new owners plan to operate as a Korean barbecue restaurant using the new style of cooking tables that don’t require installation of large, over-table exhaust fans, he said.