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 808 Center is not yet fully occupied, and there have been a couple of false starts along the way.
Though the sign for Flower & Spoon is still up, the owner decided in February to pull out and didn’t bother to remove the sign. And the two restaurants that pastry chef Praseuth “JJ” Luangkhot was planning to open by March—Jean Marc French Cuisine, an upscale restaurant meant to anchor the complex, and Jean Marc Patisserie, a French-style pastry and coffee shop—ran into construction problems in February.
Restaurants are not the only businesses opening here, either. There are two salons—Dada Salon, run by Chop Salon’s Richie Miao, and Khiet Salon by Khiet Luu—the popular nail salon Azumi Nail, Kupulau Jewelry and Hawai‘i Voice KTV & Lounge, a fancy 4,500-square-foot karaoke lounge with private rooms.
Owner Ho equates the 808 Center to the 35,000-square-foot McCully Shopping Center, located about a mile away. This highly visible complex, situated on the corner of congested Kapi‘olani Boulevard and McCully Street, boasts a similar mix of chain and family-run restaurants, salons and other service-oriented businesses. The 808 Center, though, will showcase slightly more higher-end options that can’t be found in any of its nearby restaurant-and-retail-complex competitors such as Ala Moana Center and Ward Village.
Right now, though, the 808 Center seems to be a well-kept secret that desperately wants to be shared. Nearby office workers flock to the new complex for lunch for the novelty; by dinnertime, it’s much slower, save for Sushi Murayama.
The 808 Center is still in flux.
“In the food business, it’s always better to have more restaurants than less, to attract customers to the area,” says Urban Bistro’s Margaret Lin. “It’s becoming known as the area for eateries and it’s building a reputation as the street where there are options of good restaurants. This helps, for sure.”