CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lois Watson and Jack Adrichem of Vancouver, Canada, enjoyed their drinks at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the Waikiki Beach Walk.
Stop And Peruse The Venue
Restaurants are an important part of the waikiki experience, and options are many
The much-heralded, long-awaited Waikiki Beach Walk is open for business.
It was 96 percent leased by the end of December, and while not all the shops and restaurants have flung open their doors, many have and more are yet to come.
Clearly, the clientele will mostly be visitors, but Outrigger executives and many lessees are hopeful that local people will find the complex a destination worthy of their presence.
Barbara Campbell, vice president of retail development and leasing for Outrigger, believes the varied eateries in particular will draw kamaaina.
New and familiar eateries hope to flex their muscles in the new Waikiki destination, from a franchised Italian gelateria and a Sicilian restaurant to a Japanese-based cream-puff phenomenon and an American cuisine restaurant and bar specializing in beer. Waikiki Beach Walk's food service and libation providers will be operating at nearly all hours of the day.
Yard House, a chain developed by Kailua expat Steele Platt, is known for its vast selection of beer. "We think it's going to be a real hot entertainment spot," Campbell said. "There's a large work force in Waikiki which we believe is going to be real interested in Yard House."
Ruth's Chris Steak House and Roy's "have strong local appeal," as does Tiki's Grill & Bar, sister restaurant to tenant Holokai Grill, she said.
Restaurant Kai-Wa also has a regularly packed-with-locals sister restaurant, Okonomi Cuisine Kai, on Makaloa Street. The term Kai-Wa is "a respect for invisible atmosphere and communications as art," according to a 2004 Star-Bulletin review of Okonomi Cuisine Kai.
WDI International Inc., operator of 200 eateries including Hawaii's Tony Roma's and Capricciosa restaurants, will establish its own new concept at Waikiki Beach Walk. Taormina Sicilian Cuisine is scheduled to open in March, in 3,000 square feet on the ground floor at Don Ho Lane and Lewers Street. It is named for an old town in Sicily that the company principals visited and loved. While the actual town is old, the restaurant's decor will be modern, yet aiming to reflect the romance of its Italian namesake.
"Our capacity is 96 seats, so basically it's a real intimate ristorante," said General Manager Leatrice Grantham.
It will not be a fusion restaurant that incorporates Pacific Rim cuisine into its menu, she said. It will focus on southern Italian food and offer about 150 Italian varietal wines, hoping to serve more than one demographic: not just westbound or eastbound visitors, but hopefully local people, too.
WDI hopes to take the Taormina concept elsewhere, expanding it to Los Angeles or Japan.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ashley Will scoops gelato at Mondo Gelato, which serves gelato drinks and cakes, panini sandwiches and coffee in addition to the traditional ice cream-style dessert. Mondo Gelato is one of 11 restaurants opening in the Waikiki Beach Walk complex.
The Sullivan Family of Companies has four concepts in the complex, both retail and food service. The latter include Beard Papa's cream puffs and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, destined to get customers caffeinated and sugared from morning to night.
Coconut Willy's Bar & Grill will be a late-night spot, "strictly a bar and nightclub" that Campbell said will be open until 4 a.m., with live entertainment.
Lots of local people live and work in Waikiki, but many more do not. One oft-cited reason the don'ts don't drive in droves to the visitor mecca is parking.
On at least an introductory basis, Outrigger has addressed the concern.
"We've made parking very convenient and it's not expensive," said Campbell. The rate will extend to at least March 31, she said.
Valet parking is $5 for three hours with validation, and the porte-cochere is near the end of Beach Walk right before Kalia Road.