Finding Beretania

The people, businesses, landmarks, history and food that make this street such an integral part of Honolulu’s cityscape.


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Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

photos courtesy OF Robyn Buntin

Robyn Buntin opened his first art gallery 33 years ago to indulge his passion for collecting. “I don’t buy anything that doesn’t move me,” he says. “I really love this stuff, and it’s a dreadful addiction, really.” He started small, but the shelves of his Beretania gallery are now lined with one-of-a-kind treasures from Asia and the Pacific, including a wide variety of intricately carved netsuke (a type of Japanese miniature sculpture), handpainted Chinese scrolls, and even a more-than-1,000-year-old Southeast Asian stone Buddha head that sells for $550,000. For those with slightly smaller budgets, the gallery also offers art prints and framing services. 848 S. Beretania St., 523-5913.

photo BY David Croxford

Thomas Square

Thomas Square was named in honor of British Admiral Richard Thomas, who in 1843 restored Kamehameha III to the throne, after a misguided naval officer overthrew the monarchy earlier that year. These days, the park hosts a steady stream of craft fairs, plant sales and dog shows, all under the shade of its iconic banyan trees.

Do drop in at the Dew Drop for some of chef Charlie Tsai’s favorite dishes.

photo BY Sergio Goes

Dew Drop Inn

It’s official: This small family restaurant near Pensacola Street has the cutest name ever. But it’s the food that has made the Dew Drop Inn a local favorite since 1988—an eclectic mix of Northern Chinese cuisine with Szechwan and Taiwanese influences. Owner and chef Charlie Tsai, originally from Taiwan, says cooking is in his blood. “My grandfather had a restaurant in Shanghai, and then my father had one in Taipei,” he says. “My older sister had one in Los Angeles, and my older brother had one there, too.” The hours are limited (lunch is available Tuesday through Thursday, 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., dinner Tuesday through Sunday, 5 to 10, closed Mondays), but Tsai’s cooking makes it well worth dropping in. 1088 S. Beretania St., 526-9522.

photo BY Sergio Goes

First United Methodist Church

Perhaps best known for its distinctive chapel, designed by architect Alfred Preis in 1955, the First United Methodist Church serves as a dynamic community resource for its primarily Tongan congregation, with services in both English and Tongan. Senior pastor Eddie Kelemeni says he wants to continue to expand the church’s influence in the neighborhood. “We feed the homeless with more than 3,000 meals every week,” he says. “And I’m looking into after-school programs, to help the kids out with their homework. I wish I had 30 hours in a day, and eight days a week, to get everything done.” 522-9555, 1020 S. Beretania St.

photo BY David Croxford

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Honolulu Tabernacle

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Honolulu Tabernacle was built in 1941, 90 years after the first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Hawaii. Unlike most of their churches, which are short and square, the tabernacle boasts a tall steeple, a reflection pool and a giant mosaic of Jesus. While the temple in Laie is reserved for practicing Latter-day Saints, the tabernacle is open to everyone. Wear your Sunday best and attend one of the three services held here each week. Each service consists of three one-hour meetings—a “Sacrament Meeting” followed by two hour-long classes—but you don’t have to stay for all of them. 1560 S. Beretania St., 949-7878.

>> FAST FACT In an average 24-hour period, more than 20,000 cars pass through Beretania Street at the McCully intersection, according to the city Department of Transportation. The busiest hour? Between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., when 1,900 drivers make their way through the intersection.

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