Rock & Brews to open Maui restaurant

Jan. 27, 2014 | 0 Comments
Paul Stanley, left, and Gene Simmons of KISS were on hand for the blessing of their new Rock & Brews restaurant on Sunday, Jan. 26. (Star-Advertiser photo by Christie Wilson)

Paul Stanley, left, and Gene Simmons of KISS were on hand for the blessing of their new Rock & Brews restaurant on Sunday, Jan. 26. Pictured in foreground is Al Lagunero, who offered a blessing for and contributed a mural to the new location. (Star-Advertiser photo by Christie Wilson)

BY CHRISTIE WILSON / cwilson@staradvertiser.com

PAIA, MAUI » Looking every bit the rock stars that they are, all dark shades, tight jeans and pursed lips, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS welcomed well-wishers to an event celebrating their soon-to-open Rock & Brews restaurant on Sunday, Jan. 26.

Simmons and Stanley, founding members of one of the world’s most lucrative rock music franchises, are part owners of Rock & Brews, a burgeoning chain of restaurants with four locations in Southern California and one in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.

The family-friendly restaurants feature American fare — wings, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and salads — and an extensive collection of craft beer served amid concert-themed decor, including large-scale photographs and artwork of bands and album covers.

Hawaii’s first Rock & Brews is located in Paia on Maui’s northeast shore, a former sugar plantation town that is enjoying new life as a bustling seaside hamlet of funky boutiques, surf and swimwear shops, tattoo parlors, a variety of eateries and other small businesses, most locally-owned. It is expected to open Feb. 6, employing 77.

After being called to the stage to the tune of KISS’s “Rock and Roll All Nite,” Stanley noted he and Simmons had flown to Maui after performing at a National Hockey League game outdoors at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 25. Speaking for the pair, Stanley said he has been a regular Maui visitor for 26 years.

“I love this place and always have,” he said. “People talk about ohana, a sense of family and extended family and tradition that’s so much a part of Hawaiian culture. Anyone who was afraid of what we were going to bring in here is mistaken, and that will show over time.”

Paul Stanley, left, and Gene Simmons of KISS address the crowd in attendance for the blessing of their new Rock & Brews restaurant in Paia, Maui on Sunday, Jan. 26. (Star-Advertiser photo by Christie Wilson)

Paul Stanley, left, and Gene Simmons of KISS address the crowd in attendance for the blessing of their new Rock & Brews restaurant in Paia, Maui on Sunday, Jan. 26. (Star-Advertiser photo by Christie Wilson)

Stanley said Rock & Brews uses local products and is a big supporter of charities such as Wounded Warriors. (Restaurant owners handed a $10,000 check to the Pa‘ia Youth and Cultural Center on Sunday.) In places where Rock & Brews has opened, neighboring businesses have benefitted from the increased activity, he said.

“I’ve been in Paia before … This is a beautiful town and all we want to do is help polish a diamond.”

Each of the Rock & Brews restaurants boasts unique design features. The simple architecture of the Paia location is befitting of the plantation town. Inside is a mural by Hawaiian artist and spiritual leader Al Lagunero that runs the length of the building and continues onto an adjoining wall.

Lagunero was on hand Sunday to offer a blessing and welcome Rock & Brews to the islands.

Co-owner Michael Zislis of Manhattan Beach, Calif., said he would like to open two more Rock & Brews on Maui, in Kihei and Kaanapali. Other partners in the Maui eatery are brothers Dell and Dave Furano, who work in the concert industry, and Zislis’ sister Chrystie Blietz and her husband Mark, who live in Haiku, Maui.

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa was among those on hand to congratulate the restaurant owners. He noted that Paia town has suffered from decades of haphazard building projects.

“Now newer establishments like this one are redoing everything to bring them up to code to make them much more usable and to extend the lifetime of buildings,” Arakawa said in his remarks.

“They’re also bringing in a lot of new faces into the area and making sure we have a lot of new things to do.

“This establishment, I believe, will be packed almost every night, and that life coming into Paia is going to allow the businesses in this area to feed off of it and make this entire area much, much better for everyone.”

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