In 2001, Jurg and Linda decided to purchase the building itself, which included the historic Lahaina Inn.
“It was a wonderful opportunity,” Linda says. “Since we were already operating Lahaina Grill at that location, it just made sense to purchase [the building] and become our own landlords.”
Jurg smiles and looks down at his hands, fingers entwined and relaxed on his lap, as he continues the tale. He has a deep and sincere regard for his team, and he’s humbled that so many have been with him at Lahaina Grill for more than twenty years. “[We] could not have been successful without their hard work and loyalty,” he says.
The respect is mutual. Take Richard Olson, Lahaina Grill’s sommelier, whom Jurg credits with “taking our wines to another level.”
Richard tells us, “I bussed here for two years before being promoted to waitstaff. [While] I worked on my Court of Master Sommelier certification, I was entrusted with the wine buying.”
Jurg’s faith in him opened Richard’s world. “Visiting some of the smaller wineries and discovering a barrel of wine that can be exclusive to our restaurant is what I’m searching for during these trips. I can taste 400 different wines, but maybe four will be selected for our cellar.” He tells us he will soon be traveling to Spain and Portugal to add more “exclusive finds” to the 4,000-bottle wine cellar.
Jurg shares that every evening, about a third of the diners are repeat customers. I overhear one of those returning guests, Carol Oelke, from Oregon, say to Jurg, “You not only have a gold mine here; you have a diamond.”
As I look around the room, I have to agree. I’m impressed by the sense of ownership of the managers, hosts, servers and bartenders; and the welcoming and unpretentious manner in which they convey it.
Lahaina Grill & Lahaina Inn, 127 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina | Restaurant reservations: 667-5117, LahainaGrill.com, OpenTable.com. Hotel reservations: 661-0577 | Lahaina Ice Cream Parlour, 693 Front Street, Lahaina, 661-3310