Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Eating House 1849Restaurant Insider
October 10, 2021
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with Eating House 1849 general manager MCKENNA BROWN
When you first meet McKenna Brown, you might mistake her for the hostess at Eating House 1849, but this savvy general manager has experienced many different roles as Roy’s Restaurants training manager. I was curious to find out more about how she got her start, as it’s rare to find female leaders in this industry. She shared what’s new, as I learned (and tasted) more about the delicious weekly specials.
AL: How long have you been with Roy’s Restaurants?
MB: My first position was at Roy’s Beach House at Turtle Bay as a hostess about five years ago while attending BYU. My major was international cultural studies with an emphasis on communications and peace building. One of the senior projects I was tasked with was to find conflict in the community. Working my way through the different training positions at Roy’s, seven in total, I felt there needed to be more structure. I made this my senior project: develop a new training program for Roy’s. Upon graduation, this led to the opportunity to become the training manager, and ironically segued into the restaurant industry implementing the skills I learned for peace building and communication. I am also a state certified mediator, and I feel that being a manager requires its own set of mediation skills. About two weeks ago, I was promoted to general manager.
AL: It’s not as common to see women in leadership roles in the restaurant industry, why do you think that is?
MB: In regard to my personal experience in hospitality, at Beach House, I was fortunate to be surrounded by some great female managers and supervisors that taught me well. We do not see that too often, but the Roy’s team has many females in management. Another one in particular was my previous manager at Turtle Bay, Christine Fukada, the current GM at GOEN Dining + Bar in Kailua.
AL: Tell me about your family background?
MB: I am part Hawaiian. My grandmother was born here on Oahu, but moved to California in her early 20s. I was raised in Orange County. We would come back often to Oahu, as my grandmother has many relatives here, so I decided to come here for school and make it my home.
AL: Tell me more about the new daily specials.
MB: Lobster Black Truffle Ramen ($39) is offered Sundays-Wednesdays. It’s a classic Eating House ramen with generous amounts of shaved black truffle and a full 4-ounce lobster tail. This was introduced back in March when we first reopened for dine-in and was a bestseller.
On Mondays, the special is our 50th State Maple Glazed Half Roasted Fried Chicken Sandwich ($28). We glaze the chicken right out of the fryer. It comes with our chipotle aioli slaw, two pieces of grilled pork belly and served with a side of tempura shishito pepper fries.
For Taco Tuesday, we created the Deep-Sea Taco Trio ($27): Miso Glazed Butterfish, Rustic Seared Ahi Tataki and Macadamia Nut Tempura Kampachi.
On Wednesdays, we have the OOO-Oui Yamaguchi Burger ($28). The OOO is like saying “oooh yes,” and the oui is a play on the French word meaning “yes.”
This features a Makaweli patty, unagi, sunny side-up egg and short rib poutine fries. It’s air, land and sea all in one burger.
Available Thursday-Saturday is our 34-ounce Tomahawk ($125) with crispy lyonnaise potatoes, corn and grilled seasonal vegetable medley. This is the only Roy’s location that offers it right now.
AL: Does Eating House have a specific motto or mission it runs by?
MB: Coming from Beach House, Eating House has similar open-air dining feel, the atmosphere is casual and relaxed, but the quality and level of service is still there.
One of the goals that Roy’s has consistently at each of his restaurants is that we are ambassadors of aloha and treat everyone like family.
AL: Brunch now has become a dining culture, what makes your brunch unique?
MB: We offer our brunch on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; hopefully we will be able to offer this option for the weekend in the future, as it is very popular. We carry over some of our signature Eating House dinner menu items and offer special brunch items, such as the Caviar and Lobster Eggs Benedict and our Chicken & Waffles. We also have some brunch cocktail specials: the Yuzu Ginger Shandy made with yuzu honey, ginger elixir and Big Wave Golden Ale, and the Tropical Fizz made with a tropical blend and sparkling wine. Each are $9 during brunch.
AL: What are some of the restaurant’s other specials/events coming up?
MB: With the holidays coming up, we are looking forward to sharing our holiday menus that will offer more variety, and new family-oriented items. We are looking at hopefully opening back up for lunch soon, looking at early 2022. We do offer open-air dining, which many guests look for when choosing to dine out. Our happy hour has great specials (drinks and small plates), 4-6 p.m. every day.