Party scene for hire on the waterfront
EVENTS at the Tower is a venue looking for a party.In that sense, it's like the barn in old movies that child actor Mickey Rooney had in which to stage improbably impromptu shows with Judy Garland.
In another sense, it is a natural extension of the business that has occupied David Booth and Rick Schneider, principals in event planning company Events International Inc., for nearly 20 years.
Booth and Schneider formed Waterfront Ventures LLC to lease the old Kapono's space at Aloha Tower Marketplace earlier this year and staged an Events International party there in February -- a Pro Bowl-connected NFL VIP function for 1,700 guests. The "Aloha Boat Days" theme party featured strolling musicians, hula dancers, lei-makers and other crafters over a large but enclosed area.
Events International doubled its gross last year, and has been staff-building to the point where it is looking for commercial office space, Schneider said.
Heretofore, Events International had been literally a cottage industry, operating out of cottages on the partners' properties.
While it would seem a competitive advantage for an event-planning company to have its own home-base venue, Booth and Schneider see Events at the Tower as neutral ground, and would welcome use by other event planners, such as MC&A Inc. and Current Affairs.
"With event companies as our clients, we obviously know what they want and can provide what they need," Schneider said.
That is one reason Waterfront Ventures was formed as a separate company, "to dissolve any conflict of interest," he said.
There will be some remodeling, but the space will be kept "virtually neutral" so that it "has the flexibility to be as many things to as many people as possible," said Schneider. An elegant sit-down meal for a few hundred, a biker-themed party, a wedding or a baby luau are some examples.
Booth and Schneider see Events at the Tower as an option outside of Waikiki hotel ballrooms, citing the potential Bishop Street customer base a bit mauka.
"People could come in and do retreat-type programs in a space like the mauka lanai and then come downstairs and have their evening reception or party afterwards," Booth said. After all, they're already parked, he said.
EVENTS at the Tower will host Aloha Tower Marketplace's signature holiday events, as it did for St. Patrick's Day and Mardi Gras.
It is included in Aloha Tower Marketplace's overall marketing budget, but Events at the Tower did additional advertising for a recent event that was open to the public.
However, its primary business is to market the venue to private entities. Events at the Tower has been booked for an upcoming Make A Wish Foundation fundraiser, for instance.
Events at the Tower can bring people to Aloha Tower Marketplace that might not normally go there, "so it's a nice symbiosis," said Schneider.
Given that the space is not in use as a restaurant and bar or nightclub with daily revenue, its lease is not standard fare.
Neither Waterfront Ventures nor Aloha Tower Marketplace would divulge specifics, but both confirmed it's not a boilerplate document.
"It's events-driven and that's what we wanted," said Floyd Williamson, general manager of Aloha Tower Marketplace. Events International has worked with the marketplace as event production consultants over many years and Williamson is excited to have Booth and Schneider as tenants.
The marketplace not only allows, but encourages Events at the Tower to "use any of the common space we want," if there's a need to accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people, Booth said.
The revenue the space generates won't only be from nighttime events, Williamson said, crediting the company's broad appeal "to a different client than the young, late-night drinker group that we're trying to not go to."
Williamson describes the unusual leasing scenario as a win-win situation.
"They've got an event location that they can call home and that's going to open a lot of opportunities for them that they've not had before," said Williamson.
The venue can be accessed for set-up at just about any hour, unlike some venues with stringent time limits on set-up and break-down.
Pricing for events starts at $1,000, according to the company Web site, but Booth likes to work out custom quotes for clients and said that the pricing structure is still a work in progress.
Catering services can be hired through Events at the Tower, to take advantage of what Booth called, "some great relationships with the restaurants at Aloha Tower ... and we can quote some great catering rates," he said. However, clients can also bring in outside catering or do on-site catering in the former Kapono's kitchen.
Events at the Tower has applied for a permanent restaurant and catering license with the Honolulu Liquor Commission, but has been operating under special licenses for each event.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com