Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Duke’s Waikiki and The Sandbar Beach SnacksRestaurant Insider
May 30, 2021
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
ANNE LEE speaks with Duke’s Waikiki general manager KELI‘I GOUVEIA
Tucked away under the iconic Duke’s Waikiki, you will find The Sandbar Beach Snacks. An extension of restaurant’s dining offerings, the concept was created to offer the convenience of grab-and-go options (perfect for enjoying on the beach) that are accessible to anyone. The Sandbar Beach Snacks even offers locally made POG slushies in fresh pineapples — and it’s really good. General manager Keli‘i Gouveia — who’s been with the company, TS Restaurants, going on 14 years — shared with me what other options are available and what else is happening at his restaurant.
AL: What type of cuisine is Duke’s Waikiki known for?
KG: Fresh local fish! The fresh Hawaiian fish we serve are available according to their seasons, in keeping with Hawaiian fishing traditions, sustainability practices and respect for the sea (kai in Hawaiian). And, of course, our American comfort food with a touch of local Asian flair.
AL: You recently reopened The Sandbar Beach Snacks. What type of items are available?
KG: Sandwiches, musubis, poke bowls, açaí bowls, hummus, mochi crunch and popcorn. Items that are easy to eat and order for the beach.
AL: What was the idea behind reopening The Sandbar Beach Snacks?
KG: The pandemic caused all kinds of thinking to occur, and we realized that we could diversify our offerings so that we meet anyone’s needs, and have more snack-style foods that suit the beach well.
AL: What are the most popular items at The Sandbar Beach Snacks?
KG: I would have to say the poke bowls and Local Slushie in a Pineapple ($13) — there is something about having a drink out of a pineapple that everyone loves. We also have assorted drinks ($4-$9). The Spicy Poke Bowl ($12) is made with fresh ‘ahi; our Musubi ($3) are perfect to grab and go eat at the beach; and the All Beef Hot Dog ($4, pictured with grilled onions). You can find the full menu for The Sandbar Beach Snacks at dukeswaikiki.com.
AL: When is it open?
KG: We are open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week.
AL: Can anyone access The Sandbar Beach Snacks?
KG: Absolutely, everyone is welcome. We even find that people working are coming down!
AL: What’s upcoming for Father’s Day at Duke’s Waikiki?
KG: Have brunch with Dad from 7 to 10:30 a.m. We have made-to-order omelets, eggs Benedict, banana pancakes, fresh local fruit and more for only $19.50 per person. This is one of the best prices in town.
In early June, we will be adding a second prime rib buffet at night due to its popularity — and that night will be Sundays!
AL: Live music is your specialty. Tell me the history of how Duke’s Waikiki became a venue for local artists.
KG: It all started with Henry Kapono. From nearly the beginning, Henry has been amazing and his performances have driven people to our doors from all over the world.
We have to try and live up to that the rest of the week, so we pride ourselves on offering as much local music possible.
AL: What is your take on the future for restaurants in Hawaii?
KG: I think we have to be creative. We can’t just open our doors and expect people to come.
We have to go to them, whether it be through delivery or takeout. We will have to maintain adopted practices learned during the pandemic and continue them for the foreseeable future.
More than ever, we must be active in our communities and show that we are a part of the community, not just a business in it.
AL: Anything else you want to share?
KG: After 28 years in business, it still shocks me to hear that someone has not been to Duke’s.