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HEADLINE NEWS Weekly Newsletter

Many Changes in
Maui Restaurant Scene

Updated 09:40 AM HST, September 3, 2013
Posted 09:01 AM HST, August 29, 2013

By Vanessa Wolf

The owners and chef of the former Ma'alaea Waterfront Restaurant. File photo.

The owners and chef of the former Ma’alaea Waterfront Restaurant. From left: Gary Smith, Chef Bob Cambra, Donna “Mom” Smith and Rick Smith. Courtesy photo.

There are reality TV shows focused on the most dangerous and dirtiest jobs in the world. Odds are if they ever decided to feature the “toughest,” it would be largely populated by folks in the restaurant industry.

Just yesterday the Ma’alaea Waterfront Restaurant announced that it is once again closing.

The statement on their Facebook page read, “Aloha everyone and thanks for all of your support. It is with a heavy heart that we must close the restaurant. Thank you again for all of your support.”

The view from the former Ma'alaea Waterfront Restaurant. File photo.

The view from the former Ma’alaea Waterfront Restaurant. File photo.

The famed restaurant was in business for over 20 years when it shut down over lease issues in early 2011. It reopened a few yards away last June.

Known for its large local seafood selection and tableside Caesar salad presentation, it is sure to be missed.

Similarly, fans of chicken wings may have some change in store as Just Wing It in the Pi’ilani Village Shopping Center is currently up for sale.

The ad reads “Established restaurant selling: burgers / wings / tenders / shrimp, and 13 homemade sauces, easy cash business, all new equipment including a hood & grease trap, one month training included, long term lease, terms available. $125K.”

Just Wing It in Kihei's Pi'ilani Center is up for sale. Courtesy photo.

Just Wing It in Kihei’s Pi’ilani Village Shopping Center is up for sale. Courtesy photo.

Interested parties are encouraged to get in touch.

Similarly, those wanting to take on the restaurant-ownership bull by the horns on the West Side may be interested in purchasing the Blue Lagoon in the Wharf Cinema Center on Front Street in Lahaina.

Currently up for sale with an asking price of $149,000, the “only restaurant with a waterfall pouring down as you sip cocktails or coffee in the tropical setting. Seating for up to 100 with banquet room. Full liquor license with entertainment if you like” could be yours.

The Blue Lagoon is up for sale at the Lahaina Cinema Wharf Center. Courtesy photo.

The Blue Lagoon is up for sale at Lahaina’s Wharf Cinema Center. Courtesy photo.

Sad as these stories are, there is also some good news on the restaurant scene.

Chef Philippe Chin says he will soon be opening his Sugar Cane restaurant in the spot previously occupied by Famous Dave’s on Front Street in Lahaina.

Meanwhile, the Pastula family, owners of the Cafe O’Lei and Makawao Steak House establishments, have purchased the building formerly occupied by Spices on South Kihei Road, according to employees.

The former Spices location has been purchased by the owners of Cafe O'Lei and Makawao Steak House. Courtesy photo.

The former Spices location has been purchased by the owners of Cafe O’Lei and Makawao Steak House. Courtesy photo.

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Editor's Note:Maui Now is an open forum and we welcome any views. However, please apply your sense of aloha when posting comments - remarks that are unnecessarily offensive will be blocked.

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  • Wayde

    The restaurant business is a tough industry to be in especially on Maui when you have to pay taxes, outrages rent, outrages electric bill, and the high expense of food. It’s hard to serve affordable food after you include in all these cost. That is the reason Maui is where it is with no good restaurants.

    • eDITOr


  • JSantos

    Its very telling that they survived for 20 years in the old spot and as soon as they moved to the new mall area of Maalea they folded. Probably cause their expenses doubled. And they were always busy. Not sure what you have to do these days to stay in business but clearly the landlords have no concept of how to support business owners. I have seen first hand where landlords will keep raising the rent until a business fails and that is deemed a success in their book. Then the space remains empty.

    Dont let all the empty spaces fool you. Its not cause there isnt enough businesses who want the spaces nor is it because there isnt enough customers who want to patronize those businesses, its that the largest landlords on Maui (you know who they are) are all vampires.

    A friend of mine owns a strip mall on Big Island that no one wanted and was run down and empty. He fixed it up and set rents at a reasonable rate and the place has been completely full for over 10 years now. His method is he lowers rents until his properties are filled. He would rather keep them filled than empty. On Maui, they rather keep them empty than filled if they cant get their ransom.

    • loves to dine

      Amen! I couldn’t say it better!

  • gettin’ hungry

    tony roma’s, then famous dave’s, wonder what they are thinking? getting people to go upstairs is difficult, although lahaina pizza, fleetwoods, mooses, kimo’s exist with stairs…….so it’s got to be the food to get you to walk up………..I knew waterfront was doomed in that mall, scary place to go at night time (if you are an unknowning visitor) although Beach Bum survives but is more of a bar scene and can be accessed by a different parking lot

  • kiki

    sorry to see Waterfront shut down, I hope they find another spot and open again. Just need the right location, cause the food is great.

  • amazed

    I remember a very, very long time ago we went to the Waterfront. We had an extremely hyper server, we ordered the tableside Ceasar Salad and she was freaking out on us that we did not want the anchovies,(we hate them) said her boss was watching and she would get in trouble. It was very strange.

  • Lanai Lady

    Another closure today at the same Maalaea center. Aloha Deli closed today,

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