Owner John Ealy of the new Betty's Beach Cafe at 505 Front Street lives most of the time in California, running restaurants in Santa Cruz and San Diego. But he certainly knows what makes Maui tick.
John's intimate knowledge of the islands is what gives Betty's Beach Cafe the "island oomph." Many are raving about its kitschy ambience and its tasty and reasonably priced entrees.
"My dad owned Margaritas and he had a house on?Maui," says John. "So I used to come over and work for him for a month or so. I felt like I was growing up over here because I was so familiar with the island."
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Proprietor John Ealy is from a San Diego restaurant family with a long history of operating establishments on Maui. His latest venture is oceanfront, casual, fun and easy on the pocketbook.
John's dad was also was a partner in the Whale's Tale and passed on his seasoned knowledge to his son.?In fact, Betty's is named after the family matriarch.
"Betty was a six-foot-tall woman who wore black beehive wigs," pens John on the menu. "She always had full candy dishes on her table in her house. Betty greeted you with her front door open, standing on the porch before you even parked. Betty always believed a tasty beverage between 2 and 5 p.m. made the day better. Betty was my eccentric and beloved grandma."
So in Betty's honor, happy hour is served daily from, you guessed it, 2 to 5 p.m. with $2 margaritas, $3 mai tais, and $4 mojitos and selected beers.
John also offers a last-chance happy hour Tuesday and Thursday nights from 8 to 11 p.m. with the same great prices as in the afternoon.
Betty's is located oceanfront in the former Hecock's with bird's eye views of the Feast at Lele Luau and the islands of Lanai and Molokai.
"I was spending some quality time on Maui as I had just sold a nightclub and this came up," says John. "The whole 505 complex sold and Trinity owners worked so well with us. They just loved the concept."
Trinity refurbished the whole mall that also houses I'o and Pacific'o restaurants. Exterior walls are pale yellow and terra cotta and there are new roofs and gutters.
At the entrance to Betty's, black lights make the hanging fish in the fake aquarium look real and the vintage posters and Hawaiian memorabilia take you back in time to a more relaxed Hawaii.
"I just love this old-school Hawaiiana type of artwork," says John. "We used tortoise shells for the lighting sconces and it turned out perfect. The high-top table section and the tiered seating gives everyone a view."
Sundays, Betty's features a leisurely breakfast until noon with free-flowing champagne or mimosas with a minimum food purchase of $10.
"I'm a big breakfast person," says John. "I'm tired of just grabbing a bagel or a muffin to go. I want to sit down, relax, and enjoy the start of the day."
Choose from south-of-the-border specialties such as the Huevos Rancheros to the green-chile-and-tortilla scramble. Those with a sweet tooth will want to try Betty's pancake party with sides of eggs and meats with fruit garnish. And lovers of eggs Benedict will find toppings of mahimahi to roasted vegetables.
On the second Friday of every month, you will receive a bottle of champagne for $1 if you show proof of having your birthday sometime that month.
"We bring out birthday sashes and crowns and it's really fun," our waiter told us. "People actually wear them and get into the festivities!"
Betty's is also open for lunch and dinner and you'll find humongous salads, pupu, featured plates, hamburgers and soft tacos, wraps and quesadillas.
"Everything is fresh and good size," says John. "The food is familiar and friendly. We're keeping the price points low and the ambience casual and fun."
For more details or reservations, call 662-0300.