Peter Merriman’s New Pacific Horizons

Jul 13, 2018

Peter Merriman
Credit Anna Kim / Ward Village

Peter Merriman is one of the founding Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine chefs. These days he’s busy with new projects — and new horizons.

Chef Peter Merriman first came to Hawaiʻi in 1983 and soon became the executive chef of the of the Gallery restaurant at the Mauna Lani resort. By 1988, he branched out on his own and since then has opened eponymous Merriman’s restaurants on four islands. In 1991, he was one of the 12 chefs who, along with promoter Shep Gordon, founded the Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine movement.

These chefs took pains to help grow local agriculture by bringing Hawaiʻi’s multicultural food influences into their high-end menus, sourced with local ingredients.

That would be a satisfying career even without a chapter two. But Merriman has actually accelerated his business.

In 2011, he and Bill Terry launched Handcrafted Restaurants, which has since opened three Monkeypod Kitchen restaurants and Moku Kitchen at SALT in Kakaʻako. About 400 people are employed in Merriman’s restaurants, another 800 in the Handcrafted restaurants.

Merriman and Terry are now looking beyond Hawaiʻi for further expansion, to California and even overseas.

To make this happen, they’re being as careful about real estate as they are about what is served in the restaurants. While they’d love a waterfront location in Waikīkī, says Terry, they “will wait 10 years” if they have to for the perfect location.