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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, May 22, 2005

Parents treat their graduates to a meal out

By Simplicio Paragas
Dining Out Editor

Phillip Paolo's chef and owner Phillip Sarubbi offers an array of seafood dishes on his a la carte menu.

Photo by Randy T. Fujimori

A slew of graduation invitations have found their way into G.B.'s and my mailbox these days. One came from a dear old friend of hers whose son Zach is soon to become a member of the class of 2005. Another came from a neighbor who sent us an invitation to attend their "son" Hershey's graduation party at a nearby park.

These parents/friends now join the legions of other moms and dads, who, as a show of affection and pride, must foot the bill for the mandatory graduation party.

Although both her kids aren't due to graduate for another couple of years, Kailua resident Ann Taketa joked that she wouldn't mind adopting a graduate for a day just so she could take advantage of Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa's (2424 Kalakaua Ave., 923-1234) special "Parents" promotion.

"What parent wouldn't want a two-night stay at the Hyatt, dinner for two at Ciao Mein, Musashi or Colony Steak & Seafood, and two spa treatments?" she asked in a rhetorical tone. "I'd be glad to pay for that graduation party."

The catch, though, is parents must book a party of 20 or more guests at one of the Hyatt's restaurants or banquet halls, and their vouchers must be used at a later date. Still, this is a great deal. And at least mom and dad get something in return, aside from the bill.

Frequently called upon to provide the food for graduation parties is A Catered Experience (94-1068 Ka Uka Blvd., 677-7744).

"This year, we're just calling our graduation menus 'Summer Specials,'" said assistant manager Corinne Hokama. "We're getting a lot of people combining birthday and graduation parties all at the same time."

The first summer special features an Asian theme and is priced at $7.75 person. The second menu highlights Hawaiian favorites and costs $8.60 per person. (A minimum of 25 guests is required. Delivery fee may apply.)

Another company that provides affordable catering menus is LoCoMoCo Drive Inn in Ewa Beach (91-919 Fort Weaver Rd., Ewa Beach Shopping Center, 689-8321).

The "Party Express" menus range in price from $88 for a party of 20 to $128 for 30 guests to $218 for a group of 50 people.

"We offer a complete package, from appetizers to light desserts," owner Eric Wong said. "We can get an order ready within a couple of hours."

Phillip Paolo's (Restaurant Row, 585-8142) Connie Ortiz-Sarubbi said she's willing to work within parents' budgets.

"But they can always choose to have our lunch buffet or dinner buffet with crab legs," she said. "Both are reasonably priced, considering everything that's on the lineup."

Cost of the buffet is $9.95 Monday through Thursday, $11.95 on Saturdays, and $14.95 Fridays and Sundays. The dinner buffet's tariff is $18.95.

Chinese restaurants around town are always accommodating when it comes to graduation parties.

Seafood Village (Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa's (2424 Kalakaua Ave., 971-1818) always sees its fair share of Punahou graduates this time of the year.

This upscale Chinese restaurant offers a $9.95 banquet lunch, as well as a dinner feast for $19.95 per person. Both require a minimum of 10 guests.

A longtime favorite among kamaaina is Hee Hing Chinese Restaurant (449 Kapahulu Ave., 735-5544), which now features special luncheon ($165) and dinner ($199) banquets for parties of 10.

Cuisine Tony (1617 Kapiolani Blvd., 941-1234) showcases two different banquet menus for 10. One is priced at $168 and the other at $188. Both are available for lunch or dinner.

Yen King (Kahala Mall, 732-5505) congratulates the class of 2005 with a nine-course dinner menu for $228.

As for Hershey's party in the park, his parents provided a simple menu of water, treats and biscuits for all his friends ... all 10, four-legged, tongue-hanging, tail-wagging dogs, who helped celebrate the one year old's graduation from obedient school.

And now he's off to grad school.