In the Mix

Construction looms at thirtyninehotel

September 5th, 2011

The outdoor dining/lounge space at thirtyninehotel was one of the areas first remodeled in 2007. (Star-Advertiser photo by Cindy Ellen Russell)

Note: This post has been updated to reflect changes to thirtyninehotel's hours of operation and the new scheduling of "Kaleidoscope" announced after it was originally published.

For the second time in less than five years, Chinatown nightspot thirtyninehotel has decided to shut its doors temporarily in an effort to upgrade and remodel its space — sort of.

Back in 2007, owner Gelareh Khoie shut down the art gallery/nightclub for more than a month. This time, she plans to launch construction in phases, enabling thirtyninehotel to remain open three nights a week.

"In early 2011, the Department of Planning and Permitting, along with the Honolulu Liquor Commission and Honolulu Fire Department descended upon Chinatown venues and cited each venue for their respective permitting and safety issues," said Khoie. "So we figured it was a great time to do all the other renovations, like new bars and a new kitchen and quite a bit of aesthetic upgrades, in order to better serve our customers.

"We are currently in the stage of submitting plans for approval and permitting, and we have been strongly encouraged and warned not to begin any construction until we have permits. … The bigger construction projects will likely begin in October."

During construction, thirtyninehotel will be open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays, with happy hour in effect from 5 to 8 p.m. Hours of operation on Saturdays will be from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The changes also mean the weekly indie night, "Kaleidoscope," will transition into a monthly event starting in October, when it will be held every first Saturday until renovations are complete.

According to a press release, the changes will include:

» Two new bars

» A new kitchen

» A new men's restroom

» New furniture

» A new, "sprung wooden" dance floor

» Upgraded audio/visual equipment

» Electrical and plumbing work

» New stairwells for added safety

Upgrades are also coming to the food and drink options offered. Khoie said chef Jamal Lahiani will use the next few months to develop a new menu to "reflect a more sophisticated, yet egalitarian, experience" and that there will be a "higher emphasis on food service." And as he's done all along, local superstar mixologist (and thirtyninehotel bar manager) Christian Self will step up to help Khoie revamp the cocktail menu.

How can you support the changes? Keep partying at thirtyninehotel on Fridays and Saturdays. Buy a few drinks, and you'll be helping to ensure Khoie and her talented crew's continued operation in the downtown Honolulu arts district.


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

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