In a gesture of community solidarity and acute business acumen, Lahaina's newest restaurant, Fleetwood's On Front St., last week hosted the Lahainaluna High School football team to a complimentary dinner trial at its second floor and rooftop locale overlooking the Lahaina Roadstead and beyond to the horizon and the island of Lanai.
Some 150 players, coaches and family members last week were the guests of the business venture headed up by Mick Fleetwood, the iconic leader of one of rock music history's renowned - and beloved - bands.
But as the evening went on, it was clear to all that this was much more than a freebie publicity maneuver for the Old Lahaina Town eatery that opened to the public last Friday with a unique menu of ethnic flavors.
It was more of a joining of hands to introduce the new day of Fleetwood's with the storied past of Lahainaluna football. A modern day, contemporary business venture reaching deep into the past and to the cultural roots of the school that opened in 1831 at the foothills overlooking the village town of Lahaina, and the Hawaiian Nation's first capitol, to bring Maui's new generation to meet the families of old at the renovated, rooftop locale at 744 Front St.
On a perfect Lahaina evening with an onshore breeze fluttering the Hawaiian Flag and the sun slowly setting between Lanai and Molokai, the Lahainaluna gridiron guests were greeted on the multilevel rooftop lounge with a heartfelt introduction from Fleetwood's management, bagpipe music, beverages and appetizers before being escorted down to the main dining room.
There, each table of guests was served by a staff of familiar Lahaina faces - and many Lahainaluna alumni - a variety of main dishes, including mahi-mahi cioppino, ravioli, chicken curry, a 16-ounce Angus beef steak and even an all-American cheeseburger! The supper was topped off with an eight-layer chocolate cake ala mode for every table.
And so, as the evening ended and the content Lahainaluna faithful headed home, all with ear-to-ear smiles on their faces, I couldn't help but notice the warmth that emanated from them to embrace the building they were leaving.
It was that familiar feeling of graciousness, honor and integrity of Lahainaluna football that Fleetwood's has endeavored to share in with their generosity. We humbly thank you and wish you enduring success in Lahaina.
"When this old world starts getting me down, and people are much too much for me to face, I climb way up to the top of stairs, and all my cares just drift right into space. Up on the roof." - The Drifters