HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The final check, please! Dining landmark John Dominis served its last supper Tuesday night. The 31 year old restaurant closed its doors for good - no longer able to endure tough economic times or the fierce competition. Longtime customers say Honolulu's dining landscape will never be the same.
John Dominis has so many memories for people - of birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and just regular old Saturday nights. When the Cravalhos heard their favorite restaurant was closing on Niles Cravalho's 81st birthday, they rushed to make reservations. That was six months ago.
"Everytime we had a chance to celebrate, we came here," said Cravalho. This was their go-to place when friends visited from the mainland. Fine dining with a twist of comfort. Linda Cravalho said, "It's like Cheers. Everybody knows everybody else!"
On its last night of business, it seemed most patrons had a story or two to tell. John Dominis had been Manny Rezentes' watering hole since the day before it officially opened in November 1979.
"For 31 years, I always came here at least once or twice a week," said Rezentes with a tear in his eye. "It touches you, you know? Your heart. I hate to see it close."
Bobbie Maurer worked here since day one and served everyone from Imelda Marcos to President George H.W. Bush to OJ and Nicole Simpson.
"Have you thought about what it's going to be like tomorrow?" I asked Maurer. She answered "I'm just in a weird space, I don't know. It's been my life for so long, I don't know. It's going to be very different. I'm going to have a lot of adjusting to do."
Japanese development company, Ocean Developments, took ownership at midnight, and plans call for John Dominis to be bulldozed and a new restaurant and a new wedding chapel to be built on the property.
John Dominis founder and owner Andy Anderson is sad to see it go but realistic enough to know the economy could no longer support a restaurant of its size. It's a bittersweet ending.
When asked what he'll do when it's time to close for good, Anderson said, "I hope you're not around to see a grown man cry!" Then, he added with a laugh, "No, it's time to move on. The house is tired."
And in those final hours, some customers either hadn't heard the news – or just didn't want to say goodbye. After hanging up the receptionist's phone, Anderson began to laugh. "Did the caller want a reservation?" I asked. "For tomorrow night!" he chuckled.