Here’s a bit of little-known Kaaawa history concerning the Crouching Lion, the never-quite-a-landmarks restaurant that my dad opened as the Crouching Lion Lodge in 1952. There just wasn’t enough traffic to sustain it in the early 1950s, and the Crouching Lion has struggled under a long series of owners in the decades since.
The first chef hired is now credited with having been the inventor of “Irish Coffee,” although I doubt my dad knew that at the time.
Back in 2005, my dad recalled the restaurant’s beginnings.
We set up a nice little kitchen. We put in tables and chairs for four people each, total seating about 60 in the living room and dining room, with a huge fireplace on one end, and it created an atmosphere that we weren’t very accustomed to in Hawaii. It made a very very nice setting.
We arranged to get a chef who was from Ireland, Joe Sheridan, and we had menus set up. We had Aggie Kellett, one of the women from the [Waikiki] Surf Club, come in as hostess and manager. So we had the chef in the kitchen, a gal in the dining room to greet the guests, and it was set up pretty much as a chafing dish-type food service from the cart to the table with fancy chafing dishes, ladles, and things of that nature.
We served luncheon and dinners. It was all specialty food. The dinners were all candle lit tables with tablecloths.
Joe Sheridan, the first chef, was quite colorful with his white coat and his high crown chef’s hat working the dining room as well as the kitchen.
At the time, it was described as serving “delightful European cuisine in a quiet, restful atmosphere.”
And from an entry in Wikipedia:
Although different variations of coffee cocktails pre-date the now-classic Irish coffee by at least 100 years, the original Irish coffee was invented and named by Joe Sheridan, a head chef in Foynes, County Limerick but originally from Castlederg, County Tyrone. Foynes’ port was the precursor to Shannon International Airport in the west of Ireland. The coffee was conceived after a group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s. Sheridan added whiskey to the coffee to warm the passengers. After the passengers asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan told them it was “Irish coffee”.
Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, brought Irish coffee to the United States after drinking it at Shannon Airport, when he worked with the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco to start serving it on November 10, 1952, and worked with the bar owners Jack Koeppler and George Freeberg to recreate the Irish method for floating the cream on top of the coffee, sampling the drink one night until he nearly passed out.
But if the dates are correct, it looks like Irish Coffee was probably being served at the Crouching Lion before Delaplane introduced it to San Francisco.