New bar opens in former Nick's Fishmarket space
Apr 07, 2012 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A new bar could enliven the space left vacant when Nick's Fishmarket, a high-end Waikiki restaurant, closed in 2009 and ended a 41-year-run.
Bambooze Sports Lounge has opened on the first floor of the Waikiki Gateway Hotel at 2070 Kalakaua Ave. Following a public hearing on March 22, the Honolulu Liquor Commission granted the owner of the new establishment, The Deep End Inc., a dispenser general liquor license, which allows live entertainment, recorded music and dancing at the property.
Documents obtained from the Honolulu Liquor Commission show that the new business is affiliated with Charles "Chip" Jewitt, co-owner of Apartment3 in Century Center. Jewitt owned the former Pipeline Cafe in its heyday when it was the biggest free-standing nightclub in Honolulu.
Jewitt, who could not be reached for comment, has a long history of operating island entertainment venues. During its three-year run, Apartment3 has become known as a celebrity hot spot. Guests have included Hollywood A-listers Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer, Grammy Award-winning musician John Legend and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title-holder.
"This looks more like a dive bar," said Dave Moskowitz, who lives 250 feet from Bambooze and opposed Jewitt's application for a liquor license.
Moskowitz said that he would have welcomed another restaurant in the hotel but did not want a bar in his residential neighborhood.
"There are already enough bars in central Waikiki. They attract lots of noise and trouble," Moskowitz said.
"Since this one opened, I can tell you that it's already a lot noisier in my neighborhood at night. There are people hanging around the corners screaming and acting like Tarzan."
Walter Flood, a Waikiki Neighborhood Board member who lives near Bambooze, said that he wants to learn more about his newest neighbors before passing judgment.
"They didn't come before the Neighborhood Board," Flood said. "I'm going to look at it (today) at midnight. Hopefully, it's not too loud."
While neighborhood sentiment toward Bambooze might be mixed, the opening fills a space in Waikiki that has been fallow for a long time, said Stephany Sofos, a real estate appraiser and analyst, who lives at the other side of Waikiki.
The timing of Nick's Fishmarket's closing coincided with a significant downtown for Hawaii's visitor industry, which saw arrivals fall to 6.5 million and spending decline to $10.1 billion in 2009. Businesses at the outlying Ewa end of Waikiki bore the brunt as foot traffic dropped off in the state's primary economic corridor, Sofos said.
"Patrons of Nick's Fishmarket once flocked to the restaurant because it was a destination location," she said. "Later, business dropped off."
The landmark restaurant still had 2 1/2 years remaining on its lease at the Waikiki Gateway Hotel when it closed abruptly after notifying employees at the end of their shift. Other business closures on the Ewa side of Waikiki and increased homelessness discouraged visitors from making the longer walk there, Sofos said.
While Hard Rock has opened on Waikiki Beach Walk, the retail space around them has remained vacant, she said.
The Niketown complex, which once housed the All American Cafe and Banana Republic, is still empty, Sofos said.
"Its fourth floor, which was supposed to be a nightclub or restaurant, was never rented in the 14 years that the complex stayed open," she said.
A nearby retail space in the 2100 Kalakaua Ave. complex that houses Tiffany's, Chanel, Hugo Boss and others has stayed empty, too, Sofos said.
Bambooze's opening comes at a time when Hawaii's visitor industry is enjoying a resurgence. Visitor arrivals for 2011 were above 7 million and spending rose to $12.58 billion. If the pace during the first few months of 2012 continues, the state's visitor industry will finish this year above last.
Still, Bambooze will have to find a way to stand out from its competitors, Sofos said.
"There used to be four or five late-night bars," she said. "Now there are more like 15."
The new owner's decisions on parking and pricing will be critical to Bambooze's success, Sofos said.
"It's far out so you have to find a way to draw them in," she said. "The whole world is price-conscious right now."
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