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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Pagoda Floating Restaurant & Catering

Restaurant Insider

July 19, 2020

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: MARK GALACGAC

(From left) General manager John Teruya, restaurant manager Tracy Yadao and Anne Lee enjoy the ambiance at Pagoda Floating Restaurant.

ANNE LEE speaks with Pagoda Floating Restaurant general manager JOHN TERUYA

Pagoda Floating Restaurant & Catering is changing with the times, and this week, general manager John Teruya talks about what’s new and exciting at the Keeaumoku eatery, including its new format that includes family-style dining.

AL: Pagoda reopened for dine-in June 23. What measures have you implemented for the safety of your patrons?

JT: These are the measures we have implemented to keep guests safe: employee wellness checks prior to each shift; requiring all employees to wear face masks; frequent sanitation of high-touch areas and equipment; disinfecting tables, chairs, booster seats and highchairs after each dine-in; cleaning restrooms every hour; providing single-use condiments, disposable gloves, disposable plates and utensils upon request; and contactless payment options. We ask that guests help us by keeping the party size to a maximum of 10 guests; wearing your face mask when not seated (not required for ages 5 and younger, or for those with a medical condition); keeping a 6-foot distance from guests at other tables; staying home if you are feeling unwell; sanitizing your hands frequently at any of our hand-sanitizing stations; and using the designated exit when leaving.

AL: Can you tell us what changes we can expect for the buffet options?

JT: Now, we do not refer it as a buffet. We are now offering family-style dining — we bring the food to you, and all you can eat. In this case, the guest orders from the wait staff, and our wait staff will bring it to you, as much as you want, and the opportunity to eat more of whatever your favorite dish is, within an hour-and-a-half time frame. You can choose from the selections on the menu we provide. Choose up to four selections at a time, as many times as you wish, and your server will promptly bring your order to your table. Due to space limitations, additional items will be brought to your table as plates are removed.

AL: Please tell me what your most popular item is.

JT: Prime rib, crab and shrimp tempura are our popular items. So for Friday, Saturday, Sunday family-style dinner and Sunday all-you-can-eat family-style seafood brunch, we offer the prime rib, Alaskan snow crab legs and shrimp tempura.

Our Sunday family-style seafood brunch (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) offers an array of salads, appetizers, French toast, create-your-own-omelet (made to order), chef’s selection of beef or pork, an array of seafood items including the all-you-can-eat Alaskan snow crab legs, chef’s signature chicken, an array of starches, dessert and soft drink/coffee offered at $45.95 for adults, seniors (60-plus years) are $40.95, children ages 5-10 are $20.95, and children under 5 eat free.

During our Friday, Saturday and Sunday family-style dinner (5 p.m.-9 p.m.), we offer a soup of the day, an array of salads, appetizers, assorted temaki hand rolls, chef’s selection of beef or pork, chef’s freshly prepared catch, Pagoda seafood selection of clams and mussels and shrimp tempura, chef’s signature chicken, an array of starches, dessert and soft drink/coffee. You can add on the steamed Alaskan snow crab legs for an additional $15 per two clusters. The Friday-Sunday family-style dinner is offered at $32.95 for adults, seniors are $25, children ages 5-10 are $16, and children under 5 eat free.

During the rest of the week, we have a price-point family-style all-you-can-eat option. Lunch is Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; adults $19.95, seniors $17.95, children ages 5-10 years $9.95, and children under 5 eat free. We offer an array of salads, appetizers, chef’s selection of beef or pork, chef’s freshly prepared catch, Pagoda seafood selection of clams and mussels, chef’s signature chicken, an array of starches, dessert and soft drink/coffee.

The Monday-Thursday family-style dinner is offered at $20.95 for adults, seniors are $18.95, children ages 5-10 are $10.95, and children under 5 eat free. We also have our July dine-in or takeout special: roast prime rib ($44.95 for two people), served with choice of rice or mashed potato, hot vegetables, chef’s choice of salad, Punaluu sweetbread pudding and 1 pound of snow crab legs! (While supplies last, expires July 31.)

AL: Do you have takeout?

JT: We do downtown delivery for lunch orders of 10 or more for free if you follow us on Instagram (@pagodahawaii). We have plate lunch specials weekly. We also have the following bulk food pick up service: Pagoda is offering bulk packs for curbside pick up at 1000 Bishop St. and our restaurant at 1525 Rycroft St. Bulk foods are ordered at least a day in advance, and you enter a date and time for pickup. Options are Monday-Friday at 1000 Bishop St. at 11:30 a.m., and 1525 Rycroft St. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Charley’s Taxi is offering flat-rate pricing for delivery for bulk items to your door. Payment and pricing for that service is through Charley’s. Call 948-8354 for details. You can visit pagodahawaii.com and click on “takeout” to see available packages.

AL: What options do you offer for families with large groups?

JT:We are known as the place for large celebrations, many birthdays, anniversaries and family gatherings. The dining room capacity is no more than 50 guests. We can accommodate 50 guests in the front of the restaurant and 50 guests in the back of the restaurant, and we have three additional tea houses that are extended from the main restaurant that allows an additional 30 guests (10 each max capacity in each tea house). We can accommodate 130 guests safely and comfortably. We can accommodate up to 10 guests per family. We were able to offer this to a family that had more than 50 guests that were celebrating their grandmother’s birthday!

AL: Anything else you want to share?

JT: We have a partner, which is the landlord, and the company (which is AIO) to foresee not only the profitability of the restaurant, but also the community aspect. Wherein this time of COVID-19, we have the opportunity to do those CSA boxes to help to feed the frontline heroes. Initially, when we were mandated to close the doors, I was all in favor of closing the doors for good, returning the keys over and walking away. But our owner said no, we need to preserver and come out of this better and stronger. To have that kind of vision is strong, knowing that there is the financial obligation to keep the restaurant open and staff employed is also something to take on. It’s a domino effect. Restaurants have to stay alive in order for other businesses in the community to survive. It’s not an easy thing, but that is the vision of our owner.

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