All I Ever Wanted Was a Bar

How Colin Nishida, against his will, became the hottest restaurateur in town.

(page 5 of 5)

Nishida’s hoping that, with the dinner crowd now coming to the Kapahulu location, the original Side Street will go back to what he intended, a bar.

“I doubt it,” says Mel. “I know that’s what Colin wants, but it will never happen. It hasn’t even slowed down there.”

In hopes it will go full circle, Nishida has opened the old Side Street at lunch—“for plate lunches, just like it was Take’s in the old days.”
Flash forward: Saturday night, 6:30 p.m., the new Side Street, a third larger than the original, is two deep along the bar, the tables filled with large parties, including many families with children. There’s a line of hopefuls at the door.

Nishida, who has been there all day, is still working.

“I thought you were supposed to go home early, limit your hours,” I say.

“Yeah, yeah,” he says. “I should.”

Two hours later, he’s still in the restaurant. “Mel’s called me three times, so I guess it’s time to go home.” He tries to slip out a side door, but along the way he has to stop at every table and talk to people he knows.

“Colin has a restaurant where all his friends want to come. He’s cooking for his friends,” says Roy Yamaguchi. “I don’t think you can be a bigger success than that.”                 

John Heckathorn has been writing award-winning restaurant reviews for HONOLULU Magazine since 1984.   

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