Jason Genegabus

Friday, June 25, 2004

‘Detox’ cleans up
as new bar

SOMETHING didn't seem right when folks started giving me the heads up about a new bar opening Downtown.

"Have you heard of Detox yet?" one friend asked.

"Of course," I replied. "That's where you go when your liver starts to cry foul over all the liquor you're drinking."

I quickly learned that while I was correct, my buddy wasn't trying to stage an intervention -- she was talking about the space that used to house Players Alakea before it moved into an office building across from St. Andrew's Priory (and subsequently went out of business a few months later).

Hours: 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily
Location: 1192 Alakea St.
Phone: 526-0200


WHAT'S BEHIND the name Detox? Your guess is as good as mine.

When I visited earlier this week, I got two different answers out of the bar's general manager. First, she said the bar shared its name with a good looking guy she met while traveling.

But a few minutes later the story changed a bit. Instead of being named after someone, she explained that the name Detox meant that her bar was a place to "come and feel good."

No, it's not that kind of bar -- but judging by the looks of this place, there should be a lot of people stopping by to relax and have a few drinks once they find out about it. The name of this joint might refer to getting clean and sober, but you can be sure there will be customers getting pretty intoxicated when they decide to roll through.

THE ATMOSPHERE at Detox is a bit more upscale than it was when Players occupied the space -- new furniture and a fresh coat of paint on the walls will do that to a room.

A good 20 tables or so are scattered throughout the bar, with another 14 barstools available if you don't feel like waiting for a server to come to you.

The decor here is standard issue, courtesy of local liquor distributors. Mirrored signs advertising different brands of liquor line the walls, with the typical bottle-shaped neon signs placed throughout the room.

My favorite feature, however, has to be the couches located near the front door and dancefloor/performance space.

With a big screen television just a few feet away from the couches, I can see myself here during football season enjoying a game with a cold beer in hand. Spend some time on this side of the bar and you'll start to feel like you're cruising in someone's living room.

And if lounging in front of the television isn't your thing, head over to the opposite side of Detox for a game of pool or a few rounds of darts. Another six televisions are positioned in this area to allow for patrons to watch whatever is on while they play.

IF YOU decide to visit Detox before July 1, keep in mind that the bar is in a "soft opening" phase. Management is still trying to iron out the kinks here, which include getting the bar's taps up and running and finalizing a pupu menu.

Also in the works is a coffee shop and plate lunch operation in the space below the bar. If things go according to plan, members of Downtown's Aloha Shirt Army will be able to stop for coffee on the way to work, grab a bite to eat at lunch and have a few drinks at pau hana -- all at the same place.

And don't be surprised if this place starts to turn into a regular hangout for Honolulu's finest. With HPD headquarters just down the street and various court buildings nearby, there's a pretty good chance that officers will begin showing up at Detox in droves to kick back and relax.

How much for a Bud Light?
The Barfly drank $3.50 bottles of Bud Light during his visit to Detox. In addition, two barrels protruding from the wall behind the bar house a dozen taps, but they won't be fully operational until the bar's grand opening on July 1. It should be interesting to see what kinds of draft beer will be offered here -- serve the right stuff, and customers just might decide to head here instead of dealing with the crowds at some of the more popular watering holes Downtown.

Get things to do?
Two pool tables, four dart machines and four Megatouch game machines provide the usual distractions here. Karaoke is also available for $1 per song, and the bar's televisions are evenly spread throughout the room to provide a good view of the action being broadcast. Just be careful if you're playing pool -- one of the televisions near the pool tables hangs so low you're guaranteed to hit your head on it if you're not paying attention.

What about the grinds?
There are no printed pupu menus at Detox yet, so you have to ask an employee about what's available on the day you visit. The bar's general manager rattled off a number of selections when asked about food earlier this week, and we weren't disappointed by the fried chicken ($7) or french fries ($5) that we ordered. Each of the 10 pieces of chicken we got were battered and deep fried, almost like it was a plate of chicken tempura. The fries, while a bit oily, were seasoned incredibly well and had us reaching for our beers to wash them down.

And the help?
There was no problem ordering drinks or food here, and although there were a couple of customers seated at the bar, the bartender made a point of coming over to where we were playing pool in order to check on us and see if we needed anything. You can also tell that they're trying to make a good first impression -- we were asked for our opinion of the food after we ate, and the general manager made a point of coming by and letting us know about an upcoming grand opening celebration that's being planned.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Barfly appears every Friday in Star-Bulletin Weekend.
E-mail Jason Genegabus at with suggestions of neighborhood bars to visit.


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