The Last Days of Club Hubba Hubba
After a thorough renovation, about all that's left of Honolulu's most infamous strip club is the legendary neon sign out front, and the memories of Hubba Hubba's lurid past.
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When you walk into the buildings that housed Club Hubba Hubba today, you smell not unpleasantness, but the sharp, agreeable smell of fresh paint. Gone are the horseshoe-shaped bar, catwalk and pool table. At least one of the stripper poles has been stuck into storage for posterity. The empty rooms look huge, with 25-foot-high ceilings.
Lee Stack, a member of the Stack family, which owns the buildings at 25 North Hotel St., said the family has turned the property into space for up to four offices or possibly two upstairs offices and a street-level restaurant. The upstairs lanai, which had been a chicken coop and a place where strippers sunbathed nude, to the delight—or alarm—of neighbors, has been transformed into modern restrooms. Downstairs, much of the original brick and plaster work has been saved, and floor-to-ceiling windows look out over what will become a courtyard in the back. The Stacks received a state “façade grant” that helped renovate the front of the buildings.
With the renovation underway, one of the main questions was whether the developers would be able to keep the famous 11-foot-tall, six-foot-wide Club Hubba Hubba neon sign. For one thing, it’s against building code to have a sign on a building advertising something that doesn’t happen inside the building. But, with the help of supporters, including the perennial signage foe Outdoor Circle, Mason Architects, which is overseeing the renovation, was able to get a variance to keep the sign up. The sign was designed by famous Honolulu neon “bender” Robert “Bozo” Shigemura, who also made the Hawaii Theatre marquee and the neon sign for the Wo Fat Chop Sui restaurant in Chinatown. Right now, the plan is for the Hubba Hubba sign to be restored by Von Monroe, owner of Strictly Neon.
“I’ve been looking forward to restoring the Club Hubba Hubba sign for years,” Monroe said. “Being a neon bender, I’m excited about it.”