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Ellison’s influence helps Nobu Lanai open quickly at Manele Bay

June 27, 2013 Destination Hawaii No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has quite the influence and power.

The billionaire, who became the majority owner of Lanai last year, managed to leverage his relationship with Nobu Malibu to briskly open a Nobu restaurant on Lanai at Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay in less than a year.

On a recent visit to the Pineapple Island — which reminds me of an extremely mini version of Kauai, my home island — I had the chance to spend some time with OyvindNaesheim, executive chef for Nobu Lanai, on a local farm called Bennie’s Farm, which is one of the suppliers for the restaurant chain.

Originally from Norway, Naesheim, who has had culinary stints in some of the world’s biggest cities — including Beijing, Hong Kong and London — told me that he is still adjusting to the small town atmosphere on Lanai.

But thus far, he has been so busy with the new restaurant, which has about 25 employees, that he doesn’t have much free time.

Naesheim has nothing but high praise for Lanai’s owner, who made an appearance at the restaurant’s opening last December.

“Ellison is very supportive [and with] more people on the island, [that] will make better business for us,” he said referring to plans for Lanai to double its population in the next several years.

Naesheim also likes Ellison’s idea of sustainability, which fits in with the restaurant’s target of getting 80 percent of its vegetables from Lanai farmers.

“I would eventually like to get veggies from the other islands,” he said. “We buy fish from here.”

For now, Naesheim noted that Nobu Lanai, the creation of celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, is only open during dinner, although as demand increases, opening for lunch with a full menu may be coming soon. It currently serves sushi rolls for to customers during lunch time.

“Nobu isn’t a $200 per person restaurant,” he said. “You can get a good meal for $60 per person, not everything is outrageous.”

Edited By : Bill Hurley

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