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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 8, 2004

Nightclub owners to purchase Matteo's

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

The owners of Waikiki nightclub Zanzabar have reached a deal to buy nearby Matteo's restaurant from owner Fred Livingston.

The buyers said they will maintain the name and general atmosphere of the restaurant with white tablecloths and booths, though some changes will be made to the menu and furnishings.

A sale price was not disclosed. The transaction is expected to be completed May 1, and the restaurant's staff of 42, including its general manager of 20 years, Russell Druce, will remain.

The nightclub owners, who created Zanzabar in 1999 after acquiring the former Maharaja Nightclub in the Waikiki Trade Center, said they saw Matteo's — across Seaside Avenue from the club — as an opportunity for cross promotion. They intend to sell some Matteo's menu items inside Zanzabar and offer restaurant specials to nightclub customers and vice versa.

"We get 2,500 customers a week in the nightclub and many of them are potential Matteo's customers," said Noriko Boersema, a partner in Zanzabar with Jim Boersema, King Kaew Buatoom, Sharlee Dieguez, Yuri Kim and Charles Mitchell.

Livingston, who operates five other restaurants on O'ahu, decided to offer Matteo's for sale or lease after business at the restaurant, which is still profitable, declined as the nearby IMAX and three other movie theaters closed over the past two years.

Matteo's, at the Marine Surf Hotel at Seaside and Kuhio avenues, opened in 1972 and gained a reputation as a celebrity hangout. It was founded by the late Matteo "Matty" Jordan, who patterned its appeal after his original Matteo's in Westwood, Calif.

Livingston acquired the restaurant in 1985.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadver tiser.com or 525-8065.