Is Fresh Cafe Downtown Open or Not?

Inside Fresh Cafe Downtown. Photo by Brandon Shigeta

There was a bit of confusion as to whether or not Fresh Cafe’s first location outside of Kakaako was open for regular hours. “I felt like there was a miscommunication between myself and our customers,” owner Tiffany Tanaka says about a few things that were posted announcing February’s First Friday as the grand opening, when really, “It was just a preview of what is to come.”

So it’s not open, yet. The minimal decor—white walls, contemporary art, dark cubic furniture, and multicolor spotlights—is all there, but the kitchen and plumbing gave her some problems. The former tenant, Glenn Chu, left her some “unforeseen circumstances,” she says. Old pipes, bad plumbing, electrical issues—things that take more than a month and a half to repair. “It came with a lot of fancy equipment, but a lot of it was old,” she says.

Tanaka signed the lease for a downtown Fresh Cafe location two months ago, started moving in January, and immediately set to work renovating the space, formerly occupied by Indigo for 19 years.

Although Tanaka has planned to open another Fresh Cafe for about three years, this opening felt a little rushed because Tanaka says she wanted to move in and be ready in time for Pow! Wow! Hawaii this year (which happened Feb. 7-15), an event she helps organize with Jasper Wong and a board of directors. It didn’t happen, but there were a couple of parties at Fresh Cafe Downtown.

Once open, Tanaka wants to fill the pancake-and-egg-breakfast shaped void in Chinatown and also target a lunch crowd. She also plans to bring in a lot of music acts, and is working on a partnership with Hawaii Theatre, which owns the building, to do two events each month to complement the cafe. “Every time [the Hawaii Theatre] is open, it really helps Chinatown. I hope to work with them closer to make more happening things down there for all business to flourish,” Tanaka says.

There may be some movie nights and some music nights, but one thing’s for sure: It will not be the next thirtyninehotel. “I do not want it to be a club,” she says.

You can get another preview of Fresh Cafe Downtown at First Friday in March, and Tanaka plans to have it open under regular business hours sometime a few weeks after.

Fresh Cafe Downtown, 1121 Nuuanu Ave,