In the Mix

Lotus Soundbar moving to Chinatown

October 15th, 2010

Courtesy Lotus Soundbar

The first floor lounge at Lotus Soundbar in Waikiki, which will close its doors this weekend.

By Jason Genegabus /

After nearly four years in business on Kuhio Avenue, Waikiki nightclub Lotus Soundbar will say aloha with two final parties Friday and Saturday.

Friday's party is the big sendoff for a club that started out as a haven for local hip-hop heads and the Honolulu import scene before transitioning into more of a destination for house fans and Japanese tourists looking for familiar names from back home behind the turntables.

To that end, along with serving as a second anniversary celebration for Waikiki boutique Spiral Girl, Friday will feature female Japanese DJ Kaori upstairs in Lotus' main room, with the club's resident DJs holding things downstairs in the lounge (pictured above). The final goodbye will be on Saturday in the lounge only, with an open bar from 9 to 11 p.m.

"First of all, it's financially not making sense," said Lotus owner Paul Shih on Wednesday. "When i first came in here, it was before the recession. At that time, the rent was high.

"Ever since the recession happened, the landlord droped the rent a little, but business on this street, it's been really, really slow. And the lease is actually up on December 31 for the entire building."

Earlier this year, Shih began to scout locations for a new venue, eventually signing a lease in July on a space at 34 North Hotel Street, between PYNK and Manifest on the mauka side of the block, across from Bar 35 and NextDoor.

Photos by Jason Genegabus /

Shih said that once he wraps up in Waikiki this weekend, he'll focus all his efforts on getting what he's initially calling Lotus Downtown up and running. His initial plan was to be in business by Halloween, but Shih underestimated the amount of time he would need to deal with the City and County of Honolulu and the Downtown Neighorhood Board.

"Halloween isn't gonna happen," he said. "I applied for a liquor license (and) they rejected it (because) I gotta go through the neighborhood board. In Waikiki, I never had to go through that."

At this point, Shih hopes to be open in time for New Year's Eve, but is resigned to the possibility of not opening until 2011. One of his biggest worries, he said, is taking care of his staff. More than a dozen employees are making the move with Shih from Waikiki to Chinatown, and they'll be without income for at least another month or two due to the regulatory process.

Still, the new spot will be run by "the same management and staff" that was in Waikiki, he said.

"Before I made the decision, it was more of an expansion. But obviously now it's not an expansion. It's a relocation."

The new version of Lotus will also be set up more like Indigo than NextDoor, said Shih. The two rooms on Hotel will be utilized as a Japanese restaurant during the day, with lounge and club events at night and on weekends.

"And I'm still gonna be bringing down all the DJs that we have booked at Lotus," he added.

What about all those Japanese tourists? Isn't Shih worried about losing some of his most faithful customers by moving out of Waikiki?

"The Japanese are going to Chinatown, and all the tour guides are pushing Chinatown hard," he said. "I just don't want people forgetting the Lotus name while we're gone."

The interior space at the venue that will eventually become the new home for Lotus.

4 Responses to “Lotus Soundbar moving to Chinatown”

  1. Anonymous:

    Are the building owners or management companies?

    Are they starving?

    Or is the City charging too much property tax? too much greed?

    I feel sad that people have to work so hard to pay the rent, taxes, utilities,etc. etc. from dawn to night, 365 days. Modern slaves.

    Well somebody said the first rule to be happy is to accept life is not fair.

  2. Hypithro:

    Possibly the most pretentious bar ever in Waikiki...see ya

  3. fred:

    for residents who live in town the noise is too much let alone safety for our families. i'm not against
    business productivity but if disturbs residents,no. no owners who own bars/clubs ever live near them. please dare try doing that & reconsider having this business in a non-residential area.

  4. jen:


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