Meet Pounders Restaurant’s new GM

nagaishi_david081915Meet David Nagaishi, a 40-year-plus veteran of Hawaii’s restaurant industry, who the Polynesian Cultural Center recently appointed as general manager of our new Pounders Restaurant in the Hukilau Marketplace.

Nagaishi, who is from Honolulu, most recently worked at the Shore Bird and Ocean House Restaurants in the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel for 12 of those years. Among other establishments, he also worked at Nick’s Fish Market and opened the Mariposa Restaurant at Niemen Marcus in Ala Moana Center.

“I think this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I get to work in an atmosphere that is like any other,” said Nagaishi, who became a Latter-day Saint about six years ago. “I feel they built this restaurant for me.” He added getting the position was like an answer to prayers. “Pounders complements the rest of the Cultural Center, and we operate it in the same way and spirit as the rest of the PCC.”

Nagaishi describes Pounders as “a beautiful restaurant. It’s big, and we have a lot of potential. Where else do you find a kiawe wood-burning pizza oven, modern equipment, and enough space to make practically anything we want.”

He said he and the staff are working on “improving our service, touching up our food, and adding a few new dishes. There’s always something buzzing around.” Most recently, for example:

  • Pounders started serving a new Hawaiian plate on August 19. “That’s our new special,” Nagaishi said. “It features pork and butterfish laulau, kalua pig, lomilomi salmon, rice and haupia for $16.95. That will fill you up.”
  • “We also just brought out a blueberry cream cheese turnover at the bake shop, and we’re experimenting on an awesome pineapple upside down cake.”
  • “We’ve got new french fries. They’re really crispy and tasty, and people come just for those.”
  • Before the end of September, Nagaishi said Pounders will offer a Saturday brunch service “that will feature eggs benedict and banana pancakes, among other things.”

To guests and kamaaina who haven’t discovered the PCC’s new restaurant yet, Nagaishi said, “Come to Pounders. We have great food, fantastic pizzas and awesome sandwiches. We also offer a special discount on our baked goods after 7 p.m. The whole top shelf is half-off; and after the evening show lets out at 9 p.m., the entire pastry section is half-off. That special is for anybody.”


Pineapple Pizza at Pounders Restaurant 

“I also really want to compliment our Pounders staff,” Nagaishi said. “Everyone tries so hard and they’re all smiling. It’s a pleasure to work with them. Coming from another sector, sometimes it’s hard to find people with beautiful attitudes, but everyone here is so willing to make our guests happy.”

Pounders Restaurant in the new Hukilau Marketplace serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4-9:30 p.m. Nagaishi explained that prices do not change between the meal services, “but there are some subtle changes in menu items: For example, we serve more sandwiches for lunch, and more entrées for dinner.”

He added that Pounders also hosts parties, birthdays and anniversaries. Make your reservations at or just stop by for lunch or dinner today!

Story and images by Mike Foley


Mike Foley, who has worked off-and-on

at the Polynesian Cultural Center since

1968,  has been a full-time freelance

writer and digital media specialist since

2002, and had a long career in marketing

communications and PR before that. He

learned to speak fluent Samoan as a

Mormon missionary before moving to Laie

in 1967 — still does, and he has traveled

extensively over the years throughout

Polynesia and other Pacific islands. Foley

is mostly retired now, but continues to

contribute to various PCC and other media.