Star-Bulletin Features

Sub-Zero of the Stone Groove Family worked the turntables Thursday night at Grumpy's Nightclub and Lounge.

No grumps allowed

Story and photos by Jason Genegabus

IF there's one thing that Valerie Borges has learned during Grumpy's first six months, it's that bar and nightclub patrons are a fickle group. Good food and reasonable drink prices are not enough to ensure success; effective marketing and promotion are also important.

With six kids in the house and two full-time jobs taking up a large portion of Borges and her husband's schedules, Grumpy's just wasn't receiving the attention it needed to really thrive in Honolulu's nightclub scene. Luckily, the two realized the right people to run the establishment were already promoting Friday nights there.

Clockwise from front, Martha Ma, Cheryl Felix, Kua Hind and Jen Quinn shared a laugh upstairs at Grumpy's on Thursday.

Just over a month ago, Eminent LLC entered into an agreement with the Borges family to run Grumpy's on a day-to-day basis. The management team, Ray Alconcel, Andre Moreno and Rico Placencia, also run two successful promotion companies that were responsible for several recent concerts.

Moreno and Placencia's M1 Productions brought Ja Rule, Tweet and the Luniz to Hawaii last month, while Alconcel's Eminent Entertainment hosted performances by hip-hop artists Common and Fabolous. M1 also throws a Saturday-night party at Blue Tropix.

"It was a lot of work for us," Borges said of the effort needed to manage the nightspot. "We decided to just give them a shot. These guys are young, have a lot of energy and a lot of creative ideas to put into it."

Entertainment at Grumpy's Nightclub and Lounge now kicks off at 10 p.m. nightly. The Stone Groove Family, Nocturnal Sound Krew, Empire Sound, Complete Clothing and I-94's Jimmy Taco are among the promoters who have started weekly events.

"Each night has a different crowd; each promoter is different," Placencia said. "We're letting everybody know that you got to come check it out. When you see it, you'll know what we're talking about -- you'll catch the whole vibe."

Grumpy's Nightclub and Lounge

327 Keawe St.
The club opens at 5 p.m., with these nightly events:
Mondays: "Mind Tactic Mondays," hosted by Jimmy Taco, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Tuesdays: "Old School O.G. Movie Nite," hosted by Complete Clothing, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Wednesdays: "Sessions" hosted by the Nocturnal Sound Krew, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Thursdays: "Sweetness" hosted by the Stone Groove Family, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Fridays: "Bliss" hosted by 2Tight and Eminent Entertainment, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturdays: "Rub-a-Dub" hosted by Empire Sound, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sundays: "Groovology," 5 to 10 p.m.

Moreno was responsible for most of the changes to Grumpy's interior, repainting the walls and floors and installing big, comfortable couches on the second floor.

"Upstairs, we call it the 'Velvet Lounge, " Alconcel said. "We wanted to give it a darker atmosphere. Instead of lighting, we put candles all over. ... We got statues, plants; we made it live, you know?"

Most of the new styling cues at Grumpy's are patterned after San Francisco's Red Room, one of the clubs that impressed Moreno the most during trips to the Bay area over the past few years.

And since last weekend, the menu at Grumpy's has featured Mom's Soul Food served up by mom herself: Ida Pepper. "I'll be in the kitchen making the food," Pepper said, including Mom's Special Fried Chicken, smothered steak, catfish, red beans and rice, collard greens and cornbread. Sandwiches will be offered at lunch, with dinner entrées available after 5 p.m.

A new management team, the introduction of Mom's Soul Food and a full schedule of nightly entertainment has helped make life a lot easier for Borges.

"I feel a lot more at ease. ... It's what works for business," she said. "They're good guys (and) they're good at what they do. I think it does the place well."

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