What the Heck?
Last traces of Amfac fading away
Not With a Bang But a Whimper:
Amfac once owned 60,000 acres of island real estate and the Liberty House stores. It was bought for nearly $1 billion in 1988, and then toppled into bankruptcy. Liberty House is now Macy's and the Amfac Center, the firm's landmark towers, is now the Topa Financial Center, named after the new California owner's avocado farm.
One of the last surviving remnants of Amfac, KLC Land Co., moved out of the Topa Center last week, leaving the site totally cut off from its historic roots. Except for the corroding gates in the minipark outside, marked H. Hackfeld & Co. (Heinrich Hackfeld founded the firm back in 1848.)
Hackfeld may be spinning in his grave, because last Friday Macy's closed the restaurant named for him in its Ala Moana store. It became a stockroom.
TV Wars: No secret that KHON mega-anchor Joe Moore is unhappy with the cuts imposed by new owner SJL Broadcast. Unhappy enough to walk away from a contract that guarantees him four more years? Says Moore, "I told my wife Teresa that if I could stand two years in Vietnam, I could probably stand four years in peacetime with a new owner."
Cheering Up Bernie: Veteran broadcaster Bernie Armstrong worked, on air and off, at half the radio and TV stations in Honolulu.
Armstrong retired to help son Adam open Ohana Kai Surf Shop in Ventura, Calif. At 70, he's run into a slew of medical problems, including back-to-back cancer and heart operations.
Last week a group of Honolulu media mavens -- John Wray, Phil Arnone, Stewart Chang, Dan Cooke, Al Hoffman and Dennis Mahaffey -- ad-libbed some outrageous video, hoping to make Armstrong laugh. "Bernie's the only one who'll ever see it," says Arnone.
If you'd like to cheer Bernie up, there's a fund to help with his escalating medical bills: Friends of Bernie Armstrong, 8248 Altadena St., Ventura, CA 93004.
The Way to Mandalay: Downtown's new restaurant, The Mandalay, opened last Wednesday. Thursday, it hosted Hawaii Business Magazine's annual "Black Book" event, reserved for execs from the top firms in town.
The event was sponsored by American Savings Bank, whose CEO, Connie Lau, helped pick the venue. It's on the site of the old Yong Sing. In the '80s when Lau was toiling long hours in a junior job at HECO, she'd often meet her family at Yong Sing for dinner. "It was the only place you could eat late downtown," says Lau. "All the waitresses knew us and the kids."
Larry and Linda Chan sold all three of their popular Eastern Garden restaurants to open Mandalay. For those who recall the cavernous old Yong Sing, the new restaurant, with its stone façade, glittering bar and frosted glass, looks like a million bucks. "Oh, way, way more than that," said ASB senior veep Gabe Lee, who arranged the financing.
Mixer: Peter Shin, who used to direct spa services for Paul Brown Salons, has come up with a new business, Ke Kai. He throws spa parties for women in their homes, complete with massages, body scrubs, facials, manicures, pedicures. The kicker? At one point in his career, Shin tended bar. So he'll whip up martinis for the guests. If a massage and a martini won't relax you, nothing will.
Two By Wong Three: Congrats to director Harry Wong III, who has two plays running simultaneously: "Mulan" at HTY and "Ulua: The Musical" at Kumu Kahua. As a kid, Wong had no use for theater. He had a job at his uncle's chicken hatchery when his parents informed him that they hadn't worked hard all their lives for him to turn out a bum. He returned to UH and caught the theater bug.
Seeing Red: There may not be a red dress left to buy in town. They were all snapped up for last weekend's Starlight Ball at the Academy of Arts.
"Red's for fun," said Janet Marlette, holding a red martini and showing off a red twirly number designed for the dance floor. "Plus, this is more cleavage than I've ever shown in my life." Her husband, architect Steve, wore a black tux with a discreet red tie. "I bought it," said Janet. "He needed to match."
Michael DeWeert, a senior scientist at BAE Systems Spectral Solutions, wore a red cape. "Bought it on the Internet," he said. "Hope I find somewhere else to wear it."
No one topped Queen's surgical tech David Wadsworth, who was immaculate in black tie, except his right arm was in a red Chinese silk sling. While taking waves at Pops in his one-man canoe, Wadsworth tore muscle from bone in his arm. He saved his canoe, got it back to shore and atop his car, and managed to drive home before getting his arm repaired in surgery. The festive sling was created for the occasion by his wife, harpist Pumehana Davis.
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