Kahului Ale House: Beyond Bar Food
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The restroom sinks have dryers INSIDE of them.
This idea was so fascinating to me, I lugged my camera inside the restroom to get footage of this ultra-modern sink in action. And sure enough, it’s wash, clean, dry, all in the same place.
“We actually found the new Dyson faucets this year; the soap’s right there in the sink, you wash your hands and it dries your hands in the sink bowl, so you don’t have to take your hands out of the sink the whole time,” explains Kahului Ale House owner Brad Sundin, who installed the faucets to eliminate water on the floor and paper towel pile-ups. “And then when you go out of the bathroom, we have a wrist grab, so you don’t have to use your hands to open the doors.”
It’s among many changes that have come to Ale House since Sundin took it over more than five years ago, in the space on Kamehameha Avenue that housed a Sizzler restaurant back in the day.
“When we got here, the A/C was out; we put new A/C on the building, we’ve redone the interior, redone the bathrooms, painted the exterior, new flooring,” he explains. “Basically my whole goal is really customer experience; I want the customer to have a good experience when they’re here.”
A good experience for beer lovers can often come down to one thing: a frosty mug. And Ale House has a serious strategy to keep your brew cool.
“A lot of our beer, when you see our beers poured, it’s so cold the beer won’t form a head,” Sundin says. “It gives the customer a good value, and the beer really is ice cold. We chill all of our glasses to 30, when we set the glycol chiller, we’ll actually run it down to the point where a beer or two will start freezing, then we’ll back it up a degree so it’s really cold.”
Sundin says many of the beers average around 28 degrees in temperature, making them among the coldest beers on the island. The bar also has its own nitrogen generator that creates the proper mix for different beers, and employees rotate kegs on the regular. If you think 16 beers on tap is a bunch, just wait: the Ale House is remodeling its bar in month or two, which will bring it up to 24 draft beers. Sundin says that will be enough, since he wants to ensure freshness.
Two of those beers are on special each day for $3 during the restaurant’s expanded happy hour that runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Live, local musicians jam every evening of the week, and there are “Late Night Grinds” with discounted pupus from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m.
“We expanded the menu a lot to give people in Kahului a lot more options to eat,” he says. “There weren’t too many restaurants serving too many varieties of food, so we kinda upped the size of the menu a lot, so it’s not really just bar food.”
Sundin lists off a number of his favorites on the menu, including spinach-artichoke dip, pizzas, burgers, Kalbi ribs, chicken katsu, saimin, chili and nachos with house-made salsa, guacamole and chips. Chefs also roast their own turkey and pastrami in-house.
And there’s something else, maybe a little unexpected. Ale House features a sushi bar with top-notch chefs.
“Our head chef was from Sansei, started Sansei with DK, and Harry from Harry’s in Wailea,” he explains. “Been going for four years now; we really didn’t go for quantity on that, it’s quality, so it’s all #1 fish.”
Ale House also aims to score with sports fans, featuring 40 television screens around the restaurant and a new 132-inch high-definition T.V. wall. According to Sundin, there’s really not a bad seat in the house for TV viewing, especially on popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) nights, when there’s never a cover charge.
“We’ve carried the UFC for so long, they give us really good pricing on it,” Sundin explains. “Ale House carried it since the beginning, so we pass that right onto the customer; no cover charge anymore.”
He says MMA fighting and football are the most popular, but they also draw in sports fans during playoffs for baseball, basketball and hockey, World Cup soccer and the Olympics. With 40 sports channels and 40 T.V.s, it’s possible for everybody to enjoy something different. And Sundin is proud to say his local customers call the shots, describing them as “the nicest group of people,” along with his staff of close to 50.
“If somebody requests something, if we get enough requests for it, we’ll bring it in,” he says. “I don’t carry any beers here for me, I carry the beers here for my customers. In fact, when we roll the new taps out, we’re going to try to poll people on different beers so we can get the mix that the customers want in here. The place is for them, not for me.”