The restaurant, located on Rarotonga’s south coast and formerly known as Sands Restaurant at the Moana Sands Hotel, is under the new management of owner Rohan Ellis.
The Sands Restaurant has had a number of successful operators over the last 15 years, and Ellis said when the restaurant was listed for sale, he jumped at the opportunity to expand his current restaurant business.
Ellis is also manager of the popular eatery, The Islander which has been in operation since 2015
He said the restaurant business expansion has always been on the horizon for his business and the Moana Sands opportunity fitted their plans perfectly.
“Negotiations spanned two months and we were able to finalise the sale and purchase agreement mid-July this year. We raced against the clock to reopen on the first of this month.”
The restaurant has been rebranded as “Moana” which translates to “ocean” in Cook Islands Maori.
Ellis said the name was a nice fit with the Moana Sands Hotel, the actual location of the restaurant and bar.
Jasmine Kee is the head chef at Moana and she is renowned for her simple and refined cuisine.
Kee specialises in Pacific cuisine with a South-East Asian twist.
Ellis says her introductory menu will be upgraded as she becomes familiar with her new surrounds and customer preferences.
“Jasmine (Kee) loves to incorporate local produce and seafood into her menu options and loves to dabble with modern plating styles.”
Overtime, the restaurant and bar will be upgraded and “morphed” into a boutique destination venue, Ellis says.
“We will offer a fun vibe for family and friends in the main restaurant area, as well as a ‘romance couples-only’ destination in the beautiful beachfront dining pavilion.
“The menu will evolve into more trendy and contemporary, offering modern Pacific cuisine at affordable prices.”
The restaurant is easily accessible from the road front and boasts a stunning beachfront dining pavilion that Ellis says lends itself to romantic candlelit dinners for couples.
Moana Restaurant and Bar has created 12 new jobs for Cook Islanders.
The new business is recruiting team members from around the Titikaveka and Vaimaanga areas.
Ellis says potential candidates must demonstrate personal happiness and a great attitude to life.
The restaurant will open for breakfast at 8am, lunch from 11am, dinner from 5pm and bar will operate on two shifts, 7-3pm and 3-10pm.