In plantation-style wooden booths set with fresh, tropical flowers, three locals in T-shirts and slippers laugh, lean on plump pillows, and enjoy Habana Cabana pork sliders and Millionaire's mojitos, muddled with fresh lime, mint leaves and raspberries.
At the nearby rectangular bar in the open-air dining room cooled by air-conditioning, a well-heeled visitor and his date in red sundress (with Tommy Bahama shopping bags in tow), make eyes at each other over Rosarita Beach fish tacos and Coconut Cloud martinis.
It's Island Time, and Merv Oana serenades with his island tunes. It's that time of day when small plates of pupu cost only $6 each. The high-end cocktails cost $8 per glass, and are garnished with items such as sugar cane sticks, umbrellas and fresh fruit.
Tommy Bahama Tropical Cafe is luring in lots of Maui residents with its Island Time discounted drinks and pupu promotion, according to Bernie Feehan, the café manager.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Yes, Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe upstairs in the Shops at Wailea is loosening its aloha shirt, so to speak, to appeal to both locals and visitors with the Island Time promotion that runs from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 9 p.m. to closing nightly. The music starts as early as 5:30 p.m., with Howard Ahia rotating with Oana to get everyone in the island groove.
"The so-called 'happy hour' is something that Tommy Bahama didn't even entertain 10 years ago,' " says Executive Chef Rey Baysa. "Even still, we are calling our new promotion Island Time. It goes with our saying, 'Relax, life is one long weekend.' On Tommy's island, everyone is supposed to be on vacation and we're trying to capture our local clientele to come and experience it."
Now locals may pretend life is one long weekend pau hana as they hang out in tony Wailea, schmoozing with the touristas, and eating $6 plates of food.
During Island Time, you and your pals may share the world-famous coconut shrimp, Tommy's riblets, quesadillas and Long Beach chicken lollipops. Locals know the latter as Korean chicken, with the meat bunched up at the end to dip in spicy ko-chu-jang sauce.
Like his predecessor, Chef Baysa is a heavy hitter in Maui's culinary world. He was formerly corporate chef for Five Palms and Canoes. His new Bungalow Bar menu that runs during Island Time also offers beers for $4; well drinks for $5, wines from $6 to $7 and exotic drinks at $8. "We don't mess around with our cocktails," says cafe Manager Bernie Feehan. "All of our drinks are top shelf and we pour Tommy's Rhum on all drinks from the Crazy Cuban to the Smooth Sailing."
For more details, call Tommy Bahama at 875-1398.