Takes the Town by Storm

Like the Hawaiian winds of its namesake, Kona Grill is a breath of fresh air to Liberty Township’s restaurant scene. With its cutting edge, contemporary design and central location in the heart of the new, sprawling Liberty Center shopping complex, the American grill and sushi bar is set to take the town by storm. And the food hasn’t even been mentioned yet.

The eye of the Kona Grill storm is a dream team of upbeat, experienced leaders. General Manager Seth Brown is no stranger to the hospitality industry. Having previously served as the General Manager of CRAVE and TGI Fridays, and as operations manager at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, Brown started in the restaurant business at age 15, as a dishwasher. Twenty-six years later, he still loves his job. He explains, “I love working with people and showing them what real hospitality is. I’m passionate about this business – to me it is very rewarding. I enjoy every day at this job, because every day is different.”

Kona Grill’s Executive Chef, Shaun Hart also started in the hospitality business washing dishes. “My career has taken me to nine states and 18 cities,” he says. “I fell in love with this business early on. I cooked through college, started traveling around, and learned as much as I could. It was almost an addiction to learn as much about cooking as possible.”

Assistant General Manager Matt Allen summed it up this way, “We are a certain breed of people to be in the restaurant field. You have to like making people happy and take pride in what you do.” Matt also began his hospitality career as a teenager, at age 16. “I just always had a passion for it. My goal is to put a smile on someone’s face every day and give them a great meal!”

Kona Grill’s vibe varies, depending on where you choose to sit. Brown explains, “Sit in whatever area that fits your mood…comfortable dining room…energetic bars…either of the two, four-season, open-air patios.”

“Kona has built this beautiful restaurant that’s unlike anything – anything that’s around!” Hart adds. “My biggest attraction to Kona Grill is that nobody’s doing what they’re doing. They are completely unique in their style and concepts. In addition, they have the freshest ingredients. Fish is flown in everyday. For a chef, that is the best of both worlds!”

Hart recommends the popular Potstickers ($10.25) as an appetizer. “It’s made fresh several times a day, because it’s so popular. It comes five to an order, wrapped fresh with a steamed bottom, giving it a crunch.” They are served with Asian slaw and a house-made sauce.

Hart and Allen agree if you like spicy foods, you should have the Picasso Roll ($15). Hart describes the sushi roll, “It starts and ends with yellow tail, with jalapeno, cilantro, togarashi, avocado, sriracha and yuzu ponzu. Mmmm, it’s lights out! It’s spicy and sweet – every flavor in your mouth. This dish gives it!”

The main entree of choice is the Hawaiian Ribeye ($30.75). “It’s very aromatic,” Hart says, “so you can smell it when it goes by you.” He has a way of bringing the flavors alive, even in words. “The ribeye is marinated then cooked to order on the grill and caramelized real nice, due to the sugars and acidity, and gets a grilled pineapple on top of it and fried onions on top of the pineapple slice. It’s served with mashed potatoes, fresh made in our scratch kitchen, and the vegetable of the day.”

The full bar puts a cyclone-twist on its specialty drinks. “One of my favorite drinks is the Strawberry Basil Lemonade,” exclaims Allen. “It’s made with rum, fresh strawberry slices, lemon juice and a touch of basil leaves. It’s fruity and refreshing!”

“But we also serve Sake, Hot Sake and Sake Bombs,” Allen continues. He says a Sake Bomb is “when you put Sake in a shot glass, teetering it on top of two chop sticks above a 22-ounce glass of beer and bang the table and chant ‘Sakeeee Bomb!’ The shot glass falls in, the beer foams and you drink it fast!” he laughs.

“We have something for everybody,” Hart concludes with a shrug. “If you come to Kona Grill and leave without finding something you like – then you just don’t like food!”