Mick Fleetwood has been known to entertain customers on the rooftop of his Maui bar. Fleetwood’s on Front Street, Hawaii.
Fleetwood’s On Front Street is a themed rock’n’roll restaurant/bar reminiscent of Bill Wyman’s famous Sticky Fingers in London.
Hawaii is blessed with impeccable sunsets. But this one in Maui, from the highest rooftop bar in Lahaina – the former capital of Hawaii – takes some beating.
The gorgeous views stretch due west towards the next island, Lanai. As for the bar itself, it is a reflection of Lahaina. Low-rise, low-key, understated, undeniably odd.
Yet perhaps the oddest thing about this particular establishment with its comfortable couches, knowledgable barman, decent finger food, reasonable prices and refreshing sea breeze is the name of the owner, flaunted over the door.
He’s a rock’n’roll dinosaur.
Mick Fleetwood had his first hit in the 1960s when every self-respecting rock’n’roll star – particularly drummers – vowed to die before they got old.
Fleetwood’s On Front Street is one of Maui’s newest tourist attractions: a themed rock’n’roll restaurant/bar reminiscent of Bill Wyman’s famous Sticky Fingers in London.
But, of course, Fleetwood’s establishment comes with infinitely better views.
Fleetwood has even been known to entertain customers on this very rooftop. Sadly, he can’t make it tonight. He’s on a worldwide tour which reached Australia in October 2015.
Fleetwood Mac’s drummer is the only member of the band who deserves the rock equivalent of a gold watch for long service. Even bass guitarist John McVie – who provided the Mac part – was a late arrival.
Originally called Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, the band was named by Green who (like Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones) had been lead guitarist with John Mayall and wanted to tempt his two fellow Bluesbreakers to join him.
Many regard Green’s version of Fleetwood Mac as the band’s finest hour. Yet the most popular reincarnation is the 1970s version Australian audiences will see: Fleetwood, McVie, McVie’s now ex-wife, Christine McVie, and Americans Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
The cover of their 1976 album, Rumours, features Nicks and Fleetwood in romantic pose, with Mick’s signature silver castanets dangling mid-crotch. So Front Street is an apt address for Fleetwood’s restaurant. Certainly, Lahaina’s quirky seafront thoroughfare has been through as many reincarnations as the band – which explains why it has been recognised as one of the most historic main streets in the United States.
This afternoon I’m taking a break from Maui’s beautiful beaches to take a leisurely walk along a street that seems to encapsulate so much of Hawaii’s history since the first colonial powers first realised it existed in the 18th century.
Front Street itself is short, barely 400 metres from beginning to end. But it encompasses so much of Hawaii’s gradual integration into the global economy that it really should be savoured.
My advice? Start at the Old Courthouse, overlooking Lahaina Wharf, complete the guided walk and then double back 200 metres to reward yourself with a cocktail or cleansing ale at Fleetwood’s on Front Street.
The story essentially begins in the early 1820s when Hawaii’s boy king Kamehameha III made Lahaina the capital – a position it retained until 1845 when Honolulu took the honour.
By that stage, Lahaina was already an important whaling port, as American fleets chased sperm whales from the Arctic to their summer breeding grounds. When the first whaling ships from New England began arriving in Hawaii in 1819, Lahaina became a preferred anchorage, largely because of its fresh provisions and protected harbour.
With the arrival of whalers came vice. Front Street became a place of brothels and cheap grog shops.
For decades whaling was the mainstay of the Maui economy, but that changed almost overnight once a cheaper lighting alternative to sperm oil became available when oil was discovered in America.
You’ll discover most of this without even leaving the 1858 Old Courthouse because it is now the town’s museum, art gallery and visitor centre. Make sure you pick up the free walking trail map of Lahaina (or spend the extra $US2 ($2.70) for a more detailed version).
As you leave the courthouse’s seafront entrance, take a few minutes to examine the sad remnants of Lahaina Fort, demolished in 1854, around the time Herman Melville came here on a whaling ship on his way to writing Moby Dick.
Another of America’s greatest authors, Mark Twain, was also here in Lahaina during one of his lecture tours. He stayed at The Pioneer Inn, built in 1901. It’s still here: once the most reputable hotels on the island (admittedly, not that reputable since many of its guests were politicians, movie stars and authors).
However those political, celluloid and literary celebrities are overshadowed by the Old Courthouse’s most famous neighbour – the giant banyan tree that was planted in 1873 and now covers half a (Lahaina) city block.
There are three small museums worth investigating on the walk.
Baldwin Home was originally the home of Dwight Baldwin, a medical missionary. Now restored, it illustrates the huge role missionaries took in shaping modern Maui. Likewise Wo Hing Society Temple tells the story of early Chinese life on the island, while Hale Pa’ahoa (or Stuck-in-Irons House) is a former colonial-era prison just one block back from Front Street.
Yet the most interesting things you will discover about Front Street are things you’ll stumble upon by yourself.
As I was walking along Front Street I heard an unmistakeable Welsh male voice beckoning me into an art gallery.
An hour later, I was fully up to speed. Sir Anthony Hopkins, the actor, took up painting seriously again after marrying his third wife, Stella Arroyave, in 2003.
As Hopkins explains (in a video which you can watch at the gallery) Stella was impressed by some of the drawings he doodled as he was reading film scripts he’d been sent.
Harte International Galleries, in Lahaina, is the only place in the world where Hopkins exhibits his paintings. Apparently the thespian, too, was just passing, but Hopkins was so impressed with Harte’s eclectic list of artists, dead and alive – including Rembrandt, Picasso, Miro, Dali and Chagall, plus fellow actor/painters such as Anthony Quinn and Red Skelton – that he agreed to add one more to the gallery’s bizarre range of talents.
(If you have a few dollars to spare, Hopkins apparently hosts a party in California for those who have acquired his work and Aussies are a high percentage of his buyers).
Front Street has a string of restaurants to tempt you, including Kimo’s, Pacific’O and Bubba Gump Shrimp for fans of the Tom Hanks movie, Forrest Gump (it featured in the film and there’s a bench where you can pose for photos with a pair of oversized Gump sneakers).
However, even if you choose not to eat at Fleetwood’s on Front Street, pop in to see the small museum and art gallery Fleetwood opened in 2015 on the ground floor.
Apart from Fleetwood’s own fine art photographs, usually “signed” with his own coloured handprints, the gallery also features painted portraits by Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and work by a collection of Fleetwood’s favourite local artists.
Memorabilia from Fleetwood’s long career appear throughout the gallery and the main restaurant, including drum kits, commemorative discs and classic photographs of the various incarnations of the group.
My favourite is a beautifully restored Austin 7 car, a tiny vehicle for such a lanky man.
Fleetwood spotted it parked on the streets of London when he was a penniless musician. He left a heartfelt note on the windscreen saying it was his dream car: if the owner was ever thinking of selling, would he give this number a ring? Two years later, the owner called.
But in the 1970s Fleetwood went to live in the US, leaving the car in the stable of his brother-in-law, Clapton. There it stayed for 16 years before Fleetwood had it impeccably restored and imported to Maui.
His fascination with classic road machines is even apparent on his restaurant’s menu.
The most expensive item (by far!) is the “Harley Davidson Hog Burger” (a one pound [425 grams] beef burger with grilled Applewood smoked bacon, Fleetwood special sauce and trimmings, plus a ride on his limited edition, custom-built Harley).
Cost? A mere $US47,9993! But rest assured: the optional extra, aged white cheddar, comes free. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION
Hawaiian Airlines flies daily from Sydney and four times weekly from Brisbane direct to Honolulu, using new Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Connections from Melbourne and other Australian cities available with preferred partner Virgin Australia.
Hawaiian Airlines also has about 160 daily Boeing 717 flights between Honolulu at Kauai, Maui and both Kona and Hilo on Hawaii Island (The Big Island).
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Steve Meacham travelled at his own expense.
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