Crackin’ Kitchen to open Saturday in former Matteo’s Cafe space after extensive renovations
Apr 30, 2015, 6:39am HST Updated: May 4, 2015, 6:14pm HST
Crackin’ Kitchen concept chef Takeshi Omae prepares a dessert at a private event held Wednesday in
Waikiki to commemorate the restaurant’s May 2 grand opening.
By Darin Moriki
Reporter- Pacific Business News
Officials from George’s Corp., which operated Blue Marlin Hawaii out of the Marine Surf Waikiki
for less than a year, say they will reopen the space as a cajun restaurant following nearly a
month of extensive renovations and some soul searching.
The new concept restaurant, called Crackin’ Kitchen, will officially open for business on
Saturday with a new look, culinary focus and leadership at the helm.
“Honestly, whenever I do any kind of new project, if I don’t have any confidence in it, I don’t want
to do it,” George’s Corp. Vice President and General Manager Taku Teramoto said about his
decision to overhaul the nearly 5,500-square-foot dining space on the ground floor of 364
Seaside Ave. “Especially with this concept, I thought we had to do it — we had to do it ASAP
because it will take off, and I’m sure it will take off. I’m very confident, and I’m ready to move
forward and welcome all of the guests.”
Plans to overhaul the restaurant, Teramoto said, date back to December when he first joined
George’s Corp., headed by Masato George Kanemoto, and saw a concept that was focused on
seafood but “scattered all over the place.”
“The concept wasn’t there,” Teramoto told PBN on Wednesday during a private event at the
restaurant. “I told my boss, ‘This place has to change,’ and that’s when we started talking about
a new concept and a new restaurant.”
What came out of those discussions, he said, was a restaurant with a casual atmosphere that
focuses on cajun fare, a regional American cooking style found nowhere else in Waikiki.
With a new plan in mind, George’s Corp. officials closed Blue Marlin at the beginning of April for
a nearly $150,000 makeover, which included redoing the restaurant’s interior space.
“When we were talking about this, we thought cajun would work perfectly because it’s
entertaining, fun, casual … and requires you to eat with your hands, which is fun and not
something many people are used to,” Teramoto said.
Leading what is being dubbed the “Hawaiian Cajun” vision for Crackin’ Kitchen is chef Jonathan
Botello, the former chef de cuisine at Fresh Cafe in Chinatown and Kakaako, and concept chef
Takeshi Omae, a twice-awarded Michelin Guide star chef who owns Ramen by Omae in
Sherman Oaks, California, and Japanese Cuisine by Omae in Las Vegas.
All told, the restaurant will employ 30 full- and part-time workers.
Crackin’ Kitchen will be open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner will be served from 5
to 10 p.m.
Before the space was opened last June as the Blue Marlin Restaurant and Blue Marlin Tapas &
Sushi Bar, the dining area was once occupied by the well-known Matteo’s Italian Restaurant,
which closed in 2008 after several ownership changes and nearly four decades in business.
A third George’s Corp.-owned restaurant that opened in the Marine Surf Waikiki at the same
time, HI Tide Poke Cafe, was shuttered in December and transformed into a sports bar,
The bar will remain open for now but will undergo a facelift at an undetermined, future date, he