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Legendary restaurateur Bob Longhi passes away

July 30, 2012 - Carla Tracy

Legendary restaurateur, Bob Longhi, 79, passed away Monday afternoon at Maui Memorial Medical Center after suffering a heart attack.

Known as “the man who loves to eat,” the outspoken panama-hat wearing restaurateur opened Longhi’s in Lahaina, his first Maui establishment, in 1976. With its then verbal menus, valet parking and trademark black and white marble floors, it quickly rocketed to become one of the top 10 highest grossing restaurants in the nation.

With too many awards under its belt to mention here, the bastion of fine dining drew in celebrities from winemaker Robert Mondavi to basketball star Kareem Abdul Jabbar over the decades for its excellent service, fine wines and Italian specialties such as linguine with clams, Lobster Longhi and tiramisu.

In subsequent years, he also opened Longhi’s Wailea and and Longhi’s Ala Moana on Oahu next to Neiman Marcus. Both continue to be success stories.

In the true Italian tradition, Longhi’s enterprises have always been a family affair. His son, Peter Longhi, is the vice president and general manager of Longhi’s Lahaina. Peter also runs the food and beverage outlets at Travaasa Hana hotel in East Maui as a separate entity. Bob's other son, Charlie Longhi, is in charge of the Oahu operations.

Bob’s daughter, Gabrielle Longhi, penned a cookbook with her dad entitled “Longhi’s: Recipes and Reflections From Maui’s Most Opinionated Restaurateur.” Daughter Carol Longhi O’Leary graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and ran the kitchens in Lahaina for quite some time. Daughter Genafer Longhi has also spent much time growing up in the dining rooms as “the youngest hostess in America.”

My sincere condolences go out to the family. He was one of Maui's most colorful men, who changed the landscape of dining here. Bob Longhi will be missed. But his family restaurant legacy continues.


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