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Food Service Beat
Polynesian Cultural Center Opens Transformed 'Gateway' Restaurant

The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) recently opened the doors to its renovated — and re-envisioned — Gateway restaurant, resulting in one of the largest enclosed restaurants and special events venues on Oahu.

Now boasting a 24,400-=sq. ft. grand dining hall with seating for more than 1,000, Gateway offers two bountiful, buffet spreads. The Island Feast buffet features authentic dishes from throughout the Pacific such as Fijian chicken curry and koko alaisa (chocolate rice pudding) along with a variety of kamaaina (local) favorites. Those upgrading to the Prime Dining buffet will have all the options in the Island Feast plus additional dishes including crab legs, shrimp cocktail, kalbi style short ribs and prime rib. Both options are presented with Polynesian hospitality and ambiance fit for alii (royalty).

“When we first looked at reinvigorating the Gateway experience, we knew it had to be more then just a facelift and food upgrade,” said Alfred Grace, PCC’s chief operating officer. “We set out to create a unique venue that captured the essence of a unique Polynesian feast on a grand scale — something that was more then just dining but an experience.

The immense scale of Gateway’s architecture is immediately apparent upon entering; however, it is the attention to details in the design that makes Gateway stand apart from many other venues. The restaurant’s structural design harkens back to that of a Samoan fale with wide wooden pillars and angular sweeping roof. The immense doors, each one 12 feet tall by 6 feet wide, a highlight of the exterior, are ornamented with intricately carved ulu and kalo leaves, beckons guests to enter.

The interior is where Gateway really shines. Sixty-eight massive pillars patterned after Koa logs, support the ceiling and are adorned with shell torches that provide ambient lighting. One of the largest murals in the world, extending nearly 8,000 sq. ft., dominates the walls, taking guests on a visual journey by depicting the many cultures of Polynesia, including the Hawaiian host culture, and the melting pot of cultures that represents present-day Hawaii.

Grace added: “The grand mural complements the storytelling aspects of our daytime activities and evening show experiences. The mural’s colorful depictions transport guests through Polynesia, from the bountiful Hawaiian landscape and welcoming gesture of Alii to illustrations of the cultures of Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti and Marquesas. Guests will also recognize many historical figures and contemporary icons that have helped shape Hawaii.”

Gateway also features a state-of-the-art cooling system; two large ventilation fans more powerful than those used for indoor skydiving, can completely circulate the entire volume of air in Gateway every 3 minutes, enhancing the natural breeze. “The new Gateway restaurant offers something for both visitors and kamaaina,” said Raymond Magalei, PCC’s director of marketing. “The combination of Gateway’s grand atmosphere with the ono cuisine of Polynesia will definitely not disappoint. We wanted to be sure that throughout their time with us guests are wholly immersed in the spirit of the Polynesian island cultures. This extends through not only our villages and exhibits but in our Ha: Breath of Life evening show, shops and, in this case, the dining.”

The Gateway renovation is part of a number of new features being added to bolster PCC’s already impressive list of offerings. Within the next five years the PCC hopes to unveil a new immersive experience in the Hukilau Theater, an expanded market place and a bevy of hands-on activities just to name a few.

For reservations or more information, visit or call the PCC ticket office at (800) 367-7060. PCC is open every day, except Sunday. Founded in 1963 as a non-profit organization, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) has entertained more than 36 million visitors, while preserving and portraying the culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia to the rest of the world. In addition, the PCC has provided financial assistance to nearly 17,000 young people from more than 70 different countries while they attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. As a non-profit organization, 100 percent of PCC’s revenue is used for daily operations and to support education.