After a year of closing its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saipan’s favorite steakhouse Coco Restaurant located in Garapan is back in business and offers a wide array of steak and sides options for lunch. With the meat and prawns grilled in a brick grill and smoker while you wait, expect fresh, juicy, and scrumptious dishes served on sizzling plates from 10:30am to 2pm, Monday-Sunday.
“It was a long wait without any income… one year of being closed made me think of many things—should I close permanently, should I wait until the pandemic is over? Because we incur expenses even without business. With all of those stressful thoughts, somehow my heart told me not to give up,” said Coco president Grace Seo.
“I focused on what we can do and so we renovated the restaurant… We have always wanted to do that especially after the damage we experienced after Typhoon Soudelor and Super Typhoon Yutu. Now, the building is all concrete in and out, we made it spacious, made the ceiling higher, removed the glass dividers, and changed the paint color. When regular customers come in, they may be surprised with the new look but our food quality and taste is the same as the first day we opened in 1998,” Seo added.
Seo opened Coco Restaurant in January 1998. Since then it was a popular name among locals and tourists. “While we were closed, regular customers kept calling to ask when will I reopen. These comments encouraged me to be strong because these are the same people who knows about the quality of our food and they miss it. Finally we opened in April 25, 2021,” she said.
“I was happy to see regular and new customers on our opening day last week. We were packed from reservations from 10:30am to 2pm. We are open only for lunch for now and since we know it is a difficult time for everyone, we lowered our prices to cater to our local market,” she added.
Seo admits that before the pandemic, the main base of Coco Restaurant were the tourist and dishes on the menu then were in the $50, $60, $80 price range. “But for lunch, we have adjusted our prices and we are not serving full menu that we offered pre-pandemic. To make our dishes affordable, we cut down to serve the main local favorites—steaks and seafood set meals without compromising quality, taste, and customer service,” Seo said
“We know the situation of the locals and we cannot offer expensive lunch… Our current lunch menu consists of ribeye steak, tenderloin steak, mixed grilled that includes fish, chicken, and sausage, steak, and tiger prawns, to name a few,” Seo added.
Seo, a longtime businesswoman, knows that for a business to thrive, customer service has to be maintained and quality of food should always be their priority. “I have been in the restuarant business since I was 27 years old and making customers happy is always the goal… I always train my service crew… learning how to serve customers better in the restaurant is a continuous training… We also have two private rooms available for private celebrations or company meetings—one can accommodate 30 pax the other 6 pax. We have a table in the middle of the restaurant that is sort in an enclosed area that can accommodate eight pax.”
“For now, we are starting simple… open only for lunch and we will see from there… we are also looking forward to when the tourists come back in May… Coco (koko) in Japanese means ‘here’—people remember it easily that is why many people and tourists know us… we are also here again to serve what people love about us and I invite everyone to come and try their old- time favorite steak dishes,” she added.
Coco Restaurant is located across the Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino in Garapan. They are open from 10:30am to 2pm, Monday-Sunday. For reservations, call (670) 233-2626 or look them up on FaceBook: “Coco Restaurant.”