Sneak Peek: The Lei Stand Cocktail Lounge in Chinatown
A cheeky tribute to Chinatown's iconic flower shops mixes fresh lei with craft cocktails and bites by a James Beard Award nominee in a familiar space.
What do you get when you mix a celebratory gift with a disco-washed, island-inspired aesthetic, then add a collection of talented makers and shakers? The Lei Stand is more than just the newest cocktail lounge to sprout up on Bethel Street—it’s also a real-life lei stand.
Owners Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Tara Shimooka knew they wanted to open a cool spot in Chinatown. They also wanted to pay tribute to the neighborhood known for its bustling markets, buzzworthy eateries and the many shops that offer beautiful lei. In many ways, it’s their love letter to Honolulu. In the days since its inception in 2020, and throughout the build, many folks have peeked in to buy lei. “Soon,” says Shimooka. The lounge will feature a retail storefront and lei shop in addition to what’s revealed once you walk through the curtain into the former Brasserie Du Vin and more recently, Bethel Union.
The plot thickened as their team took shape. First, with Nobu Waikīkī alum Kenny Lum at the helm as general manager and craft cocktail heavy-hitter Art Deakins managing the bar. Both seasoned food and beverage pros with a penchant for good vibes. In October, James Beard Award-nominated chef Ricky Goings joined the crew after shuttering his Sooper Secret Izakaya earlier this year. Expect bites and sips that are as fun as those who make them. The Coconut Wireless, a coconut fat-washed bourbon layered with house-made vermouth and bitters, pairs up with Lū‘au Crack Buns, baked manapua filled with pork lū‘au finished with a crackling shell, a.k.a., not your Popo’s dim sum. Fans of Sooper Secret’s Uni Waffle should prepare themselves for a sequel debut, and I’ll leave it at that.
The Lei Stand opens to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 7, with reservations going live on Open Table next week. Operating hours will be from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday. With your reservation, you can purchase a lei which will be ready at the lei stand upon arrival. It’s the perfect pairing and indeed the only place in Chinatown to get a late-night lei. Stay tuned for more developments on the outdoor patio and kitchen—we’re excited, to say the least.