As many students headed home for summer break or locked themselves in Library West to study for finals, two Gainesville residents dashed to open a restaurant close to campus.
Located adjacent to Bagels and Noodles on West University Avenue, Maui Grill opened its doors on April 21, dishing out grilled cuisines to meet the student budget.
Its owners, Ross Kaskeski and his wife, Nakita Patalinghug, decided making a bid on the former location of the Corner - Latin Confusion restaurant was something they couldn’t pass on.
Maui Grill is Kaskeski and Patalinghug’s third restaurant venture in Gainesville and is a sister location to their Maui Teriyaki restaurant on Tower Road.
“Our menu is similar to Maui Teriyaki but more for students,” Kaskeski said.
Although the restaurant has a Polynesian-themed name, Kaskeski said the menu has a “huge American flair.” It is sticking to old-fashioned American staples such as grilled chicken, steak and pork and spicing it up with its famous teriyaki sauce, which is a recipe that is kept secret. Only his wife knows the exact ingredients.
The sauce is so popular, Kaskeski said he has seen people come into Maui Teriyaki and run out with the plastic squirt bottles. So he made sure the sauce was more secure at Maui Grill by buying the big, bulky pump squirters.
Despite opening during the last week of class, customer Austin Clark said the restaurant has been a place for business professionals to catch a meal without having to drive to Archer Road from downtown.
Clark said he has been coming to Maui Grill at least three times a week since it opened and likes it because it’s “fast but not fast food.”
Patalinghug said the restaurant is working on its marketing and currently has specials in the Gator Greenbacks coupon book, with more deals for students to come.
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 5/15/2014 under the headline "Polynesian eatery opens in former Latin Corner restaurant"]
Gainesville native and Maui Grill manager Justin Amerson, 29, makes the Classic Chicken Bowl on Wednesday evening. The new restaurant opened April 21, replacing Corner - Latin Confusion.