DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Monsarrat neighborhood is an emerging business district offering mix of eateries, small shops, doctors' offices and coffee shops. Above, Vanessa Godaire and Joe Cheng ate lunch at Diamond Head Cove Health Bar this week. CLICK FOR LARGE
Monsarrat area undergoes revival
The neighborhood of shops near Diamond Head has seen a jump in new businesses
Monsarrat Avenue, a neighborhood of small shops and restaurants at the foot of Diamond Head, is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, though on much smaller scale than nearby Waikiki.
At the Diamond Head-mauka corner of Campbell Avenue, a sign on a formerly derelict and empty building announces the arrival of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, across from the ever-popular Diamond Head Market & Grill.
Down the street, in a small retail center on the makai side, there's Bogart's Cafe, a longtime local coffee shop, Diamond Head Cove Health Bar, along with L&L Drive-Inn, a dentist, nail boutique and sundry shop.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Monsarrat Avenue, a neighborhood of small shops and restaurants at the foot of Diamond Head, has added businesses such as Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in an echo of nearby Waikiki's revival. Above, Jacquie Moore, left, got some cooking instructions from Marcus Marcos, owner of the Diamond Head Cove Health Bar, on Tuesday. CLICK FOR LARGE
The avenue has achieved an economic critical mass -- traffic flows up from Waikiki, where visitors are en route to climbing Diamond Head, while wealthy residents from the slopes above travel down on their way to town.
Surfers, paddlers, joggers and the production crew from ABC's "Lost" like to hang out in the neighborhood, which is close to the film studio.
In fact, that's how Pono, the surfing yellow Labrador retriever, ended up on the show's episodes.
Marcus G. Marcos, Pono's owner and founder of the Diamond Head Cove Health Bar, says his business is a hangout as much as it is a place to eat and drink.
"First and foremost, this is considered the gateway to Diamond Head," said Marcos. "People who are on their way up and down have a place where they can see, experience and soak in a little culture."
The new Coffee Bean, which would be the 14th in Hawaii when it opens in mid-May, is expected to draw more traffic.
"We really like that location," said Teppi Waxman, director of operations. "It's busy residentialwise as well as visitorwise, with people going to the beach, zoo and park. It's one of the main roads into Waikiki."
Marcos says Coffee Bean's arrival is good for the neighborhood.
"The more the merrier," said Marcos. "When you come down the hill, there's more reason to go there."
His health bar, barely four years old, offers smoothies, salads, fish wraps, fresh poke, and local awa served in coconut bowls to a regular clientele. Local musicians play in the evenings.
Kelvin Ro, owner of Diamond Head Market, says proximity to Waikiki has helped his business.
"Now hotels are actually giving directions here and telling people we're the place to go for local food," said Ro, who opened five years ago at the former Burgerland site.
He estimates he serves about 1,000 customers per day. He admitted parking has become a problem in the small lot in front.
Next door, a new office building is under construction, and should be open this summer, housing dental and pediatric practices.
The neighborhood also is home to a bikini boutique, a florist, barber shop, and three restaurants with fare ranging from Mexican to Italian.
And with the addition of Coffee Bean, the Monsarrat corner is positively brimming with coffee choices.
Right across the street, Diamond Head Market offers Peet's Coffee from Berkeley, Calif., in a recently installed espresso bar next to its grill.
Bogart's Cafe, meanwhile, purchases its beans locally from Koko Crater Coffee Roasters.
Bogart's owner Maria Barnette said Coffee Bean won't be a direct competitor.
"I serve more food, bagels, salads and sandwiches," said Barnette. "Coffee is not my main business, although we started as such."