Jason Genegabus

Friendly joint better than
hostess bar it used to be

IT'S NOT often that a hostess bar fundamentally changes the way it does business, opting for regular customers instead of those looking for some "extras" to go with the overpriced cocktails they buy for employees.

Slammers Bar & Grill

Location: 1683 Kalakaua Ave.

Hours: 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Call: 946-4209

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Sometimes these establishments fail, returning to buy-me-drinkee status within a few weeks or months. Others succeed in finding new clientele and flourish, as was the case with Club Queen Bee last year.

For Slammers Bar and Grill, the change in direction looks to be a welcome one. Besides offering reasonable prices and tasty grinds, this joint has the right vibe for local residents looking for a new place to visit.

THE BIGGEST challenge upon arriving at Slammers is finding a parking spot. There are only a few stalls available in the lot fronting Kalakaua Avenue, and they tend to fill up quickly.

Drive around to Kalauokalani Way, and you'll find another dozen spaces outside the bar's rear entrance. You can also take your chances and block somebody in, but be ready to get up and move your ride before employees decide to call a tow truck.

Once you've got a parking space, it's smooth sailing the rest of the way. Both the front and back doors just scream hostess bar (if you've ever been to one, you know what I mean), but once you get inside it becomes a little more obvious that changes have been made.

Take one of the servers working last weekend, for example. Sporting a simple top, jeans and a cap, this girl was easy on the eyes, but it was also clear she was there to work.

The room also is lit well, and the air conditioning seems pretty efficient. The furniture doesn't reek of cigarette smoke. If you're looking for a bar that's clean with a classy appearance, Slammers is right up your alley.

Bartender Cheri Bolos, left, pours a drink as bar owner Nadya Solusod looks on at Slammers Bar and Grill. Located on Kalakaua Avenue near Daiei, the bar has a big screen television, darts and even DJs spinning tunes on Thursday nights.

THAT'S NOT to say you'll have to spend a bunch of money to have a good time here. Most of the food ranges in price from $8 to $12 per item, and beer prices are among the best in town.

With more than a dozen booths and close to 20 seats at the bar itself, there's lots of room to bring a group of friends for a few warm-up rounds before hitting the clubs on a Friday or Saturday night. Three television sets and a big screen also provide a decent setup for those who want to watch a game with their beer.

Thursday is the night for hip-hop fans here, as "The Clinic" got its start at the bar last week. Starting at 9:30 p.m., DJs MAD, Jahson the 45 Revolver and R2D2 have turntables setup for live mixing, with an open mic session around midnight hosted by Rob Hustle and Mike Device.

Other specials include $3 shots on Monday nights, $4 martinis on Wednesdays from 5 to 10 p.m. and $3 Crown Royal on Friday nights. Sundays are also worth a visit, with happy hour prices in effect all day.

AND BESIDES the food and drink, what will make Slammers a success is the attitude of the people who work there. Even though I'd never stepped foot inside this place before last week, I was told to put my credit card away when I tried to start a tab.

"Just don't run away, okay?" said the bartender with a smile, as he extended his hand and introduced himself. I hadn't been there for more than five minutes, and I already felt like a regular customer.

How much for a Bud Light?
The Barfly drank $2.75 bottles of Bud Light at Slammers; get there before 7 p.m. (or anytime on Sunday), and you'll only have to spend $2 per bottle.

Get things to do?
A countertop at the Diamond Head end of the bar has been transformed into Megatouch row, and four dart machines occupy an elevated space on the opposite side of the room. Just watch your step as you navigate your way in and out of here, since it's really easy to trip and spill your drink!

What about the grinds?
The homemade burger ($7) rivals those you'd find at Teddy's or Eddie's, and the furikake garlic chicken ($8) was seasoned to perfection. Basics like kim chee fried rice ($8), mozzarella sticks ($7) and pork chops ($10) are also available.

And the help?
Although there was just one server, she did a good job of hustling empty bottles and bringing new ones to customers. I was also surprised by the bartenders' willingness to stop and talk story. These folks are doing an excellent job of making sure new customers feel welcome when they visit for the first time.


Been there,
done that

Aloha Tower Marketplace
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Sit back and enjoy live entertainment under the stars, just steps from base of Aloha Tower. Be sure to bring a credit card if you visit; food and drinks can get a bit pricey here.

Hanagasa Inn
1343 River St.
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If you like Japanese and Okinawan food, this is the spot for you - at least until a planned management change this week. Will the menu remain? Only time will tell.

Lewers Lounge
2199 Kalia Road
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Recent renovations give this place an updated look while retaining the classy vibe its been known for. The new cocktail menu shines, and its worth visiting just for the ice cubes!

See the Columnists section for some past articles.
Barfly appears every Friday in Star-Bulletin Weekend. E-mail Jason Genegabus at jason@starbulletin.com with suggestions of neighborhood bars to visit.

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