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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jimmy Buffett to open restaurant in Waikiki

Advertiser Staff

Expect occasional appearances by singer/author Jimmy Buffett at a new Waikiki restaurant that will bear his name and is expected to open later this year on Kalakaua Avenue in the Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber.

It will be known as Jimmy Buffett's At The Beachcomber and will occupy a prominent location on Kalakaua Avenue above Macy's on the hotel's lobby level.

The deal is a partnership with Outrigger Enterprises Group and will be the first Hawai'i restaurant for the singing entrepreneur, probably best-known for the song "Margaritaville."

It's not clear whether patrons will be "nibblin' on sponge cake," but margaritas will be served. And Barbara Campbell, vice president of retail development for Outrigger, said there will be live music and food, with a Hawai'i flair that should make the restaurant different from the Margaritaville-named restaurants Buffett has in other cities.

"They are designing this restaurant for Hawai'i; it's really customized," she said. She said the deal is part of a $21 million renovation of the Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber.

She said the $15 million restaurant project will take up more than 21,000 square feet in an area that fronts Kalakaua and was home to the late Don Ho in his last years, to the Blue Hawai'i showroom and to the Hibiscus Cafe restaurant.

She said Outrigger had been in discussions with the entrepreneurial singer for two years. "Jimmy absolutely loves Hawai'i and had been looking at locations for five years," she said.

Campbell said Buffett is not directly involved in restaurant management but "expect him to visit at least at twice a year."

In a written statement about the project, Buffett said:

"From the first time I rode a wave at Canoes on Waikiki I began to figure out how I could get back to Hawaii on a more regular basis to that One Particular Harbour. I have written many stories and songs inspired by my time in Hawaii and can't wait to see what the future holds in the land that is so far but yet so near."

Campbell said Buffett's other restaurants have a reputation of serving quality food and live entertainment along with the celebrity concept, something not all chain themes have achieved.

She said the restaurant will be designed with an architectural style that combines Buffett's image with the flavors of Hawai'i, with open-air lanais and the interior design of an "indoor island" setting.

She said the restaurant is slated to open in November, with construction beginning next month.