Savvy business strategies, new chef are on deck at Deck.
“When Deck., located inside Queen Kapiolani Hotel, opened last October following that property’s $35 million renovation, management found that there were certain advantages to running a hotel restaurant. For starters, there’s a built-in customer base of guests who are likely to stop in at some point during their stay.
“We get a lot of guests from the hotel, so it’s a good relationship,” said Alan Sasayama, managing director of food and beverage with Deck.’s Japan-based parent company Plan Do See.
But on the flip side, operating a restaurant within a hotel comes with its own set of challenges. While there might be a steady stream of tourists, Sasayama also has had to figure out how to bring locals into a setting that they might not typically frequent. After all, he pointed out, locals are an important piece to any business, as they can build solid repeat visitation and help to establish a restaurant as a more permanent fixture in the community.
“Of course, we are happy to bring in the hotel guests,” Sasayama said. “But we don’t want to rely on hotel guests.”
In its first few months, Deck. seems to have struck that balance. Sasayama said that about 80- to- 85 percent of customers in the morning are hotel guests, but by the evening, that ratio is nearly flipped to largely residents.
Deck.’s location on the third floor presented an additional barrier to bringing customers in off the street, and Sasayama said that that’s part of the reason that Plan Do See also runs a coffee shop, Knots Coffee Roasters, on the ground level.
“It’s bringing more guests into the hotel, and we can explain what’s upstairs,” Sasayama said.
Deck.’s happy hour has been particularly beneficial in attracting repeat local guests, he said. In addition to daily happy hour deals, Deck. regularly hosts live music and has booked big-name Hawaii acts such as Mike Love and Paula Fuga, which has proven to be a significant draw for local clientele.