Crouching Lion Inn & Restaurant for Sale
Crouching Lion Inn & Restaurant overlooks Kahana Bay.
The Crouching Lion has long been a welcome respite for weary Oahu residents tasked with chauffeuring their in-laws around the island on whirlwind tours of the east side and North Shore. (Sea turtles! Shave ice! The mac nut farm! Oh, my). Having done this jaunt several times, I can honestly say that around Kaaawa, my patience begins to wear a little thin, which is why the Crouching Lion is so fantastic. Perched on a hillside, with abundant outdoor eating areas, ocean views and a gift shop, it’s every tourist’s happy spot and an excellent excuse for the tour guides to relax with mai tais. In fact, I’d become so enamored with the place that I wrote about it in last year’s Best Bars feature.
Naturally, I was curious when my favorite east side watering hole came on the market. According to listing agent MacArthur "Mackie" Avecilla, the owners, who acquired the property two years ago, want to try something else. “Their interests are changing, so they want to raise a family and are concentrating more in that direction,” he says. Since purchasing the property, the owners have completed some much-needed renovations, including the installation of a new septic tank, grease trap and updating the dining and kitchen areas of the restaurant, as they were in “poor shape,” says Avecilla.
The property has quite the history: George F. Larsen, a Honolulu contractor who emigrated from Norway, built the main structure as a family residence in 1927. The large, 12-by-12 timbers used for the exterior and interior were shipped from the Pacific Northwest on one of the last lumber schooners to serve the Islands, then trucked via Wahiawa and Kahuku, as it was not possible to haul the timbers over the steep Pali Cliff Drive. The Larsen family and their guests used the three bedrooms, two upstairs and one downstairs, as dormitories, while the balcony over the main hall could provide sleeping for 35 to 40 people, thanks to day beds and punee. In 1937, the home was purchased by the Reginald Faithfulls of Honolulu and later inherited by their descendants, the Thurston family. The property became a Roadside Inn in the 1940s, and, a decade later, included a restaurant, which is how it’s operated ever since. According to the sales literature, the restaurant, which can hold 300-plus people, generates more than $1 million in annual sales.
The sale of the property includes several structures: the primary building, which encompasses the main dining room, an oceanfront lanai for dining, mezzanine, basement, large foyer, office suites, a large kitchen with a bakery section, separate bar, additional banquet room and men’s and women’s restrooms. There’s also a detached, two-story residential cottage of approximately 1,600 square feet, and a separate, 1,600-sq.-ft. commercial space that is currently leased. The sale includes all fixtures, furnishing and equipment, including the registered trademark for the Crouching Lion, liquor license, an operational kitchen with all appliances and equipment, tables and chairs and a life-size monkeypod wood lion created by master carver Victor Niu.
Because the property was so recently listed, Avecilla says that he has not yet had any interested parties. “I envision [the buyer as] someone with some type of destination operation,” says Avecilla. “Ideally it would be great to have a tour operator run the restaurant and run a business to help generate more income-driven opportunity for the area.”