Former Wai‘oli Tea Room Reopens with 10 Dishes and a Renewed Focus on its Mission

Wai‘oli Kitchen and Bake Shop is the newest iteration of the beloved and historic Wai‘oli Tea Room, built in 1922 and shuttered for the past four years after a series of operators struggled to keep it financially afloat.
short rib loco moco waioli
Short rib loco moco

 

Gone are the chintz tablecloths, red velvet waffles and gift shop bric-a-brac. In their place are a modern farmhouse aesthetic and refreshingly uncomplicated menu.

 

Breakfast and lunch choices are narrowed to 10: Among them are a short rib loco moco ($14), banana mac nut pancakes ($10) and BLT ($9). Wai‘oli Tea Room executes them perfectly, from the tender short rib to fluffy pancakes to the soft, white house-made bread.

 

waioli tea room

 

“Whatever you do, don’t do it,” friends told Stefanie Anderson on reopening Wai‘oli. Anderson, a pastor, leases Wai‘oli from the Salvation Army with her husband, Ross. But, she says, “we surmised that maybe it opened and closed so much because it had deviated from the original mission” to serve as a vocational training center for the residents of the Salvation Army’s home for orphaned and abandoned children.

 

The Anderson’s restoration of the original objective—by employing and teaching life and work skills to women from the Salvation Army’s drug and treatment center and those transitioning out of prison—along with the refreshed interior, adorned with historical photos, makes Wai‘oli Kitchen and Bake Shop feel like a direct line to the old Wai‘oli Tea Room. Anderson says the Salvation Army’s theme is second chances: “It’s never too late to be who you want to be. It’s never too late to be who you’re meant to be.” And in the case of Wai‘oli, it’s never too late to be what it once was.

 

2950 Mānoa Road, (808) 744-1619, waiolikitchen.com. Open Tuesday through Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

Read more stories by Martha Cheng