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Bali Hai undergoing facelift, to reopen in April

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The family-owned landmark, Bali Hai Restaurant, is currently being revamped and will soon unveil a new look and menu.

Originally opened in 1955 by San Diego restaurateur Tom Ham on the then newly constructed Shelter Island, Bali Hai was the island's first "tiki temple," named after the song popularized by the musical "South Pacific." Polynesian floorshows at the venue soon followed, along with the creation of two tiki icons: Mr. Bali Hai, a large wood sculpture at the front entrance greeting guests, and "The Goof," a playful and mysterious remnant that has stood guard on the roof of the restaurant for over five decades.

Newly-appointed chef Chris Powell, formerly of Rancho Valencia, is heading up the kitchen and crafting a Pacific Rim themed menu and architect Graham Downes is beautifying the bayside icon by bringing it into the 21st century.

Originally built with more than 15 types of wood, the structure is now being restored to its natural, original sheen. The interior design and décor will include Bali Hai's collection of more than 100 Polynesian artifacts, creating a museum-like space for guests to explore.

The renovation will include completely refurbished dining areas, including the South Pacific Room downstairs, and several new additions: The Bamboo Lounge, an expanded bar area adjacent to the main dining room; the Tiki Room, a private upstairs dining room; an outdoor dining deck with views of the bay, bayside patio with lounge seating; a landscaped patio for weddings and special events.

"We've entertained three generations of diners, who come for the fabulous food, spectacular views, and of course, our world-famous mai tais," said owner Susie Baumann. "The renovation and new menu will draw attention to our enchanting island setting like never before."

Bali Hai is scheduled to re-open in April.

San Diego's Karl Strauss Brewing Co. is turning 21 and celebrating with a beer to showcase its maturing palate.

When the company first opened its doors in 1989, craft beers were the exception, not the norm, according to a press release. Today, tastes have evolved and beer enthusiasts now seek brews that are unique and inventive. Karl Strauss has answered the call with its 21st Anniversary Ale -- a Belgian strong ale mixed with juice from old vine Zinfandel grapes.

"Last year we were busy with a brewery expansion and getting our new bottling line up and running. Now that we've got all the hard stuff behind us, we're ready to have some fun," said Paul Segura, Karl Strauss Brewmaster. "We wanted to brew something you really don't see -- a blend of wine and beer."

Long-time San Diego Convention Center doorman/lobby director, Skip Jurus, was recently awarded the 2009 James V. Cunningham Personalized Service Award -- one of the Gold Key Awards annually presented by the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International to deserving employees in the hospitality industry.

The San Diego Convention Center was reportedly the first facility in the nation to employ uniformed doormen to personally greet its guests and Jurus was one of the first employees hired more than 20 years ago. It is estimated that he has welcomed more than 12 million visitors from around the world who have walked through their doors since 1989, according to a press release.

The Hilton Garden Inn, San Diego/Del Mar, recently announced Matt Seamons as their new general manager, Amy Buitenhek as the new assistant general manager and Viera Kovalejva as the new director of sales.

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