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Honolulu’s Best-Kept Secret is Out: The 808 Center

The 808 Center may be hidden behind Wal-Mart, but its reputation as a food hub is picking up.


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The menu at Pho Ca Dao in the new 808 Center features a variety of Vietnamese fare, from deep-fried spring rolls to grab-and-go bahn mi sandwiches to spicy bun bo hue.
Photos: Steve Czerniak 

In 2008, federal agents and Honolulu police closed down an illegal casino operation that, at one point, had a game room at 808 Sheridan St., right behind Wal-Mart.

 

The following year, that run-down, 20,000-square-foot building, which housed, most notably, a cigarette store and a wedding boutique, went to auction. Olivia and Jack Ho, who have run a successful construction company in Hawai‘i since 1982, secured the building with a winning bid of $3.6 million.

 

Now, eight years later, this once-sketchy area on the corner of Rycroft and Sheridan streets, near auto repair shops, liquor stores and dingy bars that call themselves lounges, is a shiny, three-story complex of trendy restaurants and beauty salons.

 

Called 808 Center because of its street address, the complex quietly sprung up last year behind Wal-Mart near Ala Moana Center. At first glance, it looks like a squat office building with large glass windows and a parking structure towering behind it. But a closer look reveals a bottom floor of eateries ranging from a casual hot-pot restaurant to a breakfast spot that serves gourmet shave ice. The boxy parking structure is really a multimillion-dollar, automated vertical parking garage that can store up to 72 cars and SUVs. The technology comes from South Korea, and it’s quickly become a highlight of this complex. Valet drivers pull your car into a stall and onto a rotating platform. After pressing a few buttons, your car is automatically moved into an open slot in the vertical parking structure. It’s like a car vending machine.

 

THE 808 CENTER, A 20,000-SQUARE-FOOT COMPLEX ON THE CORNER OF SHERIDAN AND RYCROFT STREETS, ISN’T FULLY OCCUPIED YET BUT IS ALREADY CHANGING THE FOOD LANDSCAPE IN THIS POPULOUS AREA.

 

One of the quirks of this complex is the multimillion-dollar, automated vertical parking garage that can store up to 72 vehicles.

Construction on the center is now complete—but not without a few complications. Early last year, plans called for nearly a dozen eateries ranging from a high-end Japanese wedding cake shop to a Sichuan chain restaurant known for sizzling hot-stone noodles. But, by this March, only a handful of restaurants had opened. The cake shop, Cake M, was still under construction and Fortune Noodle has recently reopened as Hawai‘i’s first location for Chengdu Taste, a popular California-based chain known for its toothpick lamb, a secret menu that has only recently been published in English and hourlong waits for tables. 

 

Meanwhile, the center continues to fill and evolve. When the complex is complete, maybe by this summer, the goal is to lure some of the thousands of people who trek to this bustling neighborhood every day with its eclectic offerings and snazzy parking experience.

 

“This is one location with different options,” says Olivia Ho, who owns the property with her husband and manages the tenants. “You really can’t get that vibe anywhere else in Honolulu. You can come here and eat whatever you feel like eating. That’s what Honolulu has been missing.”

 

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Honolulu Magazine August 2018
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