March 30th, 2013
After nearly four years as a popular alternative to Hotel Street nightspots, Chinatown's SoHo Mixed Media Bar makes its last call this weekend.
When Daniel Gray reopened the space previously known as Mall Cafe in June 2009, he knew the neighborhood wasn't ready for his vision. Just as he did a few years earlier opening the Loft, Gray positioned himself to be a part of the building process from conception to execution — and at SoHo, he was able to call the shots himself instead of answering to someone else.
"Three and a half years ago, we changed how people looked at Chinatown," Gray said in December when he prematurely announced the club's closure (he did not immediately respond to a request for comment yesterday). "I think that SoHo took Chinatown to a different level."
After coming close to signing a deal with a new business partner in January — so close, in fact, that Gray signed a new five-year lease on the club before everything was finalized — negotiations broke down. On April 1, SoHo will be no more, as "new ownership takes over" with a "new name" and "new look."
"It's my baby, but it's gotten to the point where it's a little stale," Gray said of his experience running the show at SoHo. "Three years ago, it was the cool, new hot thing. A bunch of new places have opened since then.
"For me, I don't get hurt. If someone opens a club and it's better than mine, I need to step my game up. I see it as a challenge."
As spring break draws to a close, SoHo fans will have three final chances to party there this week. The University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education Student Association will host a fundraiser tonight at the club, followed by "SoHo's Last Ratchet and Bassriot" on Friday, March 29, with DJs Packo, Technique, Nightmarcher, Shift, Coondog and Sandwich Island Bass.
On Saturday, March 30, "SoHo: The Final Party" will be a 21-and-over affair with no cover and no dress code — and "no sad faces," according to the Facebook event page created for the night. DJs Revise and Tittahbyte will lead an all-star cast of local talent on the turntables for the final farewell.
While many have speculated Gray will open yet another club elsewhere in Chinatown, no official announcement has been made. The identity of the owner(s) taking over at SoHo, as well as the club's new name and opening date, remain unconfirmed as well.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter and Google+.