David Paul's Island Grill closed Sept. 1 at its 900 Front St. location, according to chef and co-owner David Paul Johnson.
The closure affects about 25 employees, he said, adding that he would rehire those employees when he opens a small, bistro-style restaurant at a location on Maui sometime late this year or early next year.
"My staff members have been wonderful supporters of my restaurant," he said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "They are top-notch individuals that I would hire back in a minute."
The rising costs of doing business as well as the difficulties of managing a large, 7,800-square-foot restaurant were factors in his decision to close at the Lahaina Center location, he said.
"The bottom line is we're looking for a smaller space," he said.
Scaling back on the size of the restaurant also will allow Johnson more time to spend with his children, who range in age from 2 to 36 years old.
Johnson said he's looking at potential restaurant locations in West and South Maui.
The restaurant had been open at the Lahaina Center for 3 years. Other center restaurant tenants include Ruth's Chris Steak House and Hard Rock Cafe.
Trained in classical French cuisine, Johnson said the food in his new bistro restaurant would be "easy, fresh, affordable and fun."
He said gift certificates and awards will be honored by the new restaurant.
Johnson said the restaurant business on Maui has changed since its heyday in 2007. Now, with many new condominiums and time-share resorts with kitchens, many visitors are buying food at Costco and elsewhere and choosing instead to cook in their accommodations, he said.
"We've all seen a major decline in customers, partly because of the fact that so many condominiums have opened," he said.
And, while costs have risen in operating a restaurant, "you can only charge so much" for a meal, he said.
"The people of Maui have been extremely supportive of my restaurants," Johnson said. "I can't thank them enough."
According to an online biography, Johnson, a native of Salt Lake City, worked as a dishwasher in a pizza parlor before he came to Hawaii in 1978 and found a job cooking at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.
Johnson later opened the David Paul's Lahaina Grill in 1990, which he sold in 2000. His cuisine has earned him numerous culinary awards.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.