It was interesting to hear my mother’s story of how as a young woman she worked at Luau Hut. She had followed my biological father to the states after university in Taiwan. My father attended the University of Maryland at College Park. My mother worked as a cashier and listened to many classic Hawaiian songs almost every day.
All of this was news to me. I formed a dance company based mostly on the success of the the Polynesian Dance Arts. My mother have never informed me about this segment in her life before. The subject came up nonchalantly as we drove from Boonsboro to Hagerstown for some Indian cuisine at the famed Mango Grill. For some reason, the thought occurred to me to ask her if she ever lived in Maryland before. It so pleased me that during the popularity of Hula in the ’60’s to ’80’s, my mother was a part of that community. It must have been wonderful!
Moon Kim owned the Silver Spring restaurant that became Luau Hut, originally Moon’s Garden, which served Korean food. She met (and fell in love with) Paul Malonson, who had been maitre d’ at the Trader Vic’s in Washington, D.C. He inspired her to go Polynesian with her restaurant in 1964. It was elaborately decorated, and immensely popular. They soon opened locations Washington, D.C., first on Capitol Hill, and another short-lived one near Dupont Circle. Luau Hut lasted through at least partway through the ’80s, the building still stands but has been remodeled beyond recognition.