Maui Food and Dining

Waterfront Restaurant Re-Opens at Maalaea

June 21, 2012, 2:50 PM HST
* Updated June 21, 3:40 PM
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By Connie Harrison

5 harborfront dining waterfront

Expansive views and open air dining add to the ambiance. Photo by Connie Harrison.

Now it is official – The Waterfront Restaurant is back. The long awaited re-opening drew a crowd of happy diners to the Maalaea Harbor Shops on Tuesday, June 19.

The upscale Maalaea establishment owned by the Smith family was formerly located in the Milowai, but closed some time ago due to technical and lease difficulties. Known for its fresh seafood menu it had been popular with Mauians and their guests for decades as the go-to place to celebrate special occasions.

Now in new quarters the Waterfront features most of the favorites from the old menu as well as an extensive selection of new offerings. The new location is harbor view, with open air dining on the terrace and tiered seating in a large comfortable dining room. The bar and lounge at the entrance provide a pleasant place to congregate and socialize.

2 front of the house waterfront

Kiele Braun and Kristal Tabernero – all smiles at the reception desk. Photo by Connie Harrison.

Owners Rick and Gary Smith were all smiles as they greeted the faithful. They supervised a busy staff and generally got the first night off to an auspicious start. Long time Chef Bob Cambra, who has been with the Waterfront for 22 years, kept an eye on the bustling kitchen.


After a long hiatus the management was delighted to have their liquor license; and guests lost no time in making use of it. The doors opened at 5:30 and bar and lounge filled up quickly. Diners also availed themselves of the substantial wine line list.


“We’ve missed them,” said Eileen Killen of Maalaea seated at the bar with her husband Digger and friend Jim Wheeler of Kihei. “We’ve known them almost since day one; we’re only steps away.” For dinner they were planning on the New Zealand rack of lamb, and “of course the Caesar salad.”

3 owners rick and gary smith waterfront

Owners Rick and Gary Smith were on hand to greet diners. Photo by Connie Harrison.

The Killens weren’t the only ones with a yen for Caesar, the Brunswick family of Los Angeles; frequent island visitors came early to snare one of the choice tables on the lanai and were loading up their plates with the well known house specialty.

Judy Anderson and Harlan Hughes of Kula also craved Caesar. Longtime friends of the establishment they deferred weekend Father’s Day festivities in order to be on hand for the Tuesday night event.


In fact for a soft opening that had no advertising or publicity (only an announcement on their Facebook page) the tables filled up at a rapid rate. Outside seating was full by 6 p.m. and by 6:30 the room and bar had the bustle and chatter of a busy evening to come.

The owners said the menu will continue to feature a range of fresh seafood served in a variety of ways, favorite entrees, many new appetizers and a selection of sumptuous deserts. With the new kitchen, they said, came quite a bit of new equipment as well.

The Waterfront Restaurant at Maalaea re-opened June 19. Photo by Connie Harrison.

The Smiths said they have retained many of their old staff. There are currently eleven in the dining room and nine in the kitchen and they expect to hire more as the summer season progresses.

For now it’s dinner only with service beginning at 5:30 p.m. As the establishment finds it feet lunch will be added.


The Maalaea Harbor Shops (Next door to the Maui Ocean Center) ph: 244-9028

Dinner only until further notice. Reservations necessary.

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