Crab Shop Takes Over Café Sistina Space As Mōʻiliʻili Transitions

Nov 8, 2019

The King Street space that long housed Café Sistina has a new restaurant tenant.

For nearly 30 years, a ground floor space in the First Interstate building was home to Café Sistina, an Italian restaurant founded by chef Sergio Mitrotti in 1991. Café Sistina closed last December and has sat empty, until now. Karai Crab opened in that space this week.

It’s a move for Karai Crab inspired by another legendary restaurant closure last year, The Willows, in Mōʻiliʻili. Karai Crab’s founders, Jon Shimotsukasa, Garret Kamei and chef Miles Miyamoto were all alumna of The Willows and had opened their crab shop right next door in 2013. When The Willows closed, the three saw a decline in foot traffic, prompting to look for a space with more visibility.

The former Café Sistina space is nearly twice the size of Karai Crab’s former location, so the owners have boosted their staff to 30 employees and are adding a full bar.

They’ve also invested about $200,000 into the space. And they’re refreshing their brand, working with Wall-to-Wall Studios on a new logo and marketing campaign, as well as expanding to their menu to include both meat and vegan dishes beyond their usual seafood items.

But expect shellfish to rule as before — Shimotsukasa’s title of CEO, after all, stands for crab executive officer.