Archive for August, 2014

‘Lāhainā Noon’ seeks supporters

By
August 21st, 2014



It’s a little difficult for me to wrap my mind around the idea that I’ve known Chris Kahunahana for nearly a decade.

But what isn’t hard to believe at all is his story of leaving the nightly grind of running a nightclub in Chinatown and returning to his passion for independent filmmaking.

JAMM AQUINO / 2005Chris Kahunahana, left, with Miguel Innes and Sergio Goes in the space on Hotel Street that would become Nextdoor.

JAMM AQUINO / 2005

Chris Kahunahana, left, with Miguel Innes and Sergio Goes in the space on Hotel Street that would become Nextdoor.

When Kahunahana opened Nextdoor in 2005 with Miguel Innes and Sergio Goes, the 4,000-square-foot space on Hotel Street had aspirations of being much more than just a bar with (lots of) room to move.

I remember meeting him back then and feeling the excitement he had for what he and his partners rightly saw as the dawn of a new era in the neighborhood.

“Like Hong Kong and Berlin, we’re going to be in line as one of the next cities that provide quality entertainment,” he told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin back then. “Using this space, we want to book everything, not just DJs. We’re going for an eclectic mix. Whatever entertainment is being presented, it will create the space at (Nextdoor).”

Over the next eight years, Kahunahana worked tirelessly to make Nextdoor the destination he dreamed of, despite the departure of Innes as a business partner and Goes’ sudden death in a diving accident in 2008. New partners came and went, but he was the consistent face of the club, doing whatever it took to keep the doors open for his friends and loyal customers.

UPON HIS departure from Nextdoor in 2013, Kahunahana disappeared for a bit to collect himself and reset his focus. While fellow Chinatown entrepreneur Daniel Gray stepped up to take over following the closure of his own spot, SoHo Mixed Media Bar, earlier in the year, Kahunahana was content to lay low for a bit.

JAMM AQUINO / 2005Chris Kahunahana looks down from the area that would later become Nextdoor's VIP lounge.

JAMM AQUINO / 2005

Chris Kahunahana looks down from the area that would later become Nextdoor's VIP lounge.

He resurfaced a few months later as part of a new artistic collective, 4th World Film, with plans to release a short film called “Lāhainā Noon.” He was also selected to participate as a fellow in this year's Sundance Institute Native Lab, which opened him up to new perspectives on filmmaking and provided the motivation to return home and do some serious work behind the camera.

“I don’t sleep much,” Kahunahana, 43, joked during a phone call on Tuesday. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s cool though. I can’t complain.”

With all the filming complete, “Lāhainā Noon” is more than halfway finished but still needs multiple revisions before 4th World submits it for consideration to the Sundance Film Festival. Kahunahana also hinted at a potential Hawaii premiere during a certain annual fall film festival, but noted any official announcement now would be premature.

“I’d say we’re 75 percent done with 60 percent of the movie,” he said with a laugh. “We shot it all, edited it and stuck a bunch of sound on it. Now we’re taking away and adding more at the same time.

“Luckily with festivals, you submit a rough edit. It doesn’t have to be completely done. We’ll stop working on it when we have to turn it in (for Sundance).”

AS KAHUNAHANA continues to edit his film, 4th World will host a pair of public events in conjunction with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that launches Thursday and was selected as an official Staff Pick within 10 minutes of being submitted to the site (the campaign had raised nearly $5,000 of its $8,000 goal by noon Thursday).

COURTESY CHRIS KAHUNAHANALOCAL FILMMAKER AND FORMER NIGHTCLUB OWNER CHRIS KAHUNAHANA.

COURTESY CHRIS KAHUNAHANA

An older and wiser Chris Kahunahana is set to release “Lāhainā Noon” later this year.

The first event is an Investors and Filmmakers Cocktail Meet and greet from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bevy, 661 Auahi Street. Kahunahana and “Lāhainā Noon” assistant director Joseph Pa’ahana will be on hand to discuss the film and screen select scenes, with Grey Goose-hosted cocktails by barman Christian Self and music by DJs Timo and Mr. Nick. Admission is $25; only 50 seats are available.

Starting at 10 p.m. Aug. 28, a Friends of “Lāhainā Noon” party will take place at Manifest, 32 N. Hotel St. Once again, Grey Goose will provide the complimentary drinks, with DJs Delve and SuperCW keeping the party going until 2 a.m. Guests will be able to mingle with the cast and crew, watch behind-the-scenes footage from the film and even hear some of the soundtrack performed live. There’s no cover charge for the party, but donations will be accepted at the door.

“It’s not done yet, so any feedback we get is good and gives us an opportunity to keep working on stuff,” Kahunahana said. “I went into this project just trying to do my film. I’m not trying to do anybody else’s film.

“I’m trying to do something more in a classic filmmaking style. I want to make beautiful pictures and make people think about them. I hope that people walk away and have to think about this film.”

———

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 jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Buffett's to remain in Waikiki

By
August 19th, 2014



Good news for fans of Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber — and supporters of live music in Waikiki — arrived Tuesday when landlord Outrigger Enterprises Group announced the restaurant had found new owners and secured a new lease.

JASON GENEGABUS / 2009Jimmy Buffett on stage at Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber in 2009.

JASON GENEGABUS / 2009

Jimmy Buffett on stage at Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber in 2009.

Instead of closing for good on Aug. 31, as was first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in June, the restaurant will now close for one week “while the space and menu undergo a refresh,” according to a release.

The new owners are Handcrafted Restaurants LLC, better known as the hui behind Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman. Chef Peter Merriman, one of the originators of Hawaii's farm-to-table movement and leaders in Pacific Rim Cuisine since the 1990s, and business partner Bill Terry opened the first Monkeypod Kitchen in Maui's Wailea Resort in 2011, followed by another location at Ko Olina on Oahu in 2013. The restaurant will be leased to Handcrafted Restaurants subsidiary JB Waikiki LLC.

"We are honored to carry on Jimmy Buffett's great operation in Waikiki and look forward to expanding on its popularity with a few changes to the facilities and new additions to the menu that highlight Hawaii local flavors," Terry said. "We expect a quick and easy transition."

In addition to the food and drink, the announcement means at least a few local musicians will hopefully keep their regular gigs at the restaurant. In honor of its rock star namesake, Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber always offered a variety of live entertainment through the week, which is becoming more of a rarity in Waikiki than some might realize.

Luckily, it appears Handcrafted Restaurants also believes in supporting local musicians, as Monkeypod Kitchen at Ko Olina has consistently booked live music since it opened. Let's hope the new management in Waikiki does the same thing.

———

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 jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Chang gets a bigger Wang

By
August 12th, 2014



CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / 2012Customers at Wang Chung's Karaoke Bar will soon have much more space to sing, drink and be merry when the bar moves to the lobby of the Stay Hotel in Waikiki later this year.

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / 2012

Customers at Wang Chung's Karaoke Bar will soon have much more space to sing, drink and be merry when the bar moves to the lobby of the Stay Hotel in Waikiki later this year.

Who wouldn’t want a bigger Wang? For Dan Chang, it’s been five long years of working hard and dreaming big to make his Wang grow.

Spend some time talking story with Chang, owner of Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar in Waikiki, and you’ll find yourself making up your own puns in no time. The giggles keep coming throughout a short YouTube video he created with his employees to announce a new Indiegogo fundraising campaign that accompanied the big announcement made Sunday.

Five years after opening what Chang calls “probably the smallest bar in Waikiki,” he’s found a new space in the lobby of the Stay Hotel — just steps away from the Wang Chung’s current location on Koa Avenue.

“It’s no longer a dream,” he says in the video. “We’re getting a bigger Wang!

“We’ll be able to feature karaoke, 12 draught beers on tap, an open kitchen and just a lot more of the Wang special sauce that you've come to know and love.

“Wang’s has organically grown to become this special place because of you. Your hugs. Your aloha. Your good energy. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support over these past five years. I can’t wait to show you our bigger Wang!”

(See? The Wang jokes don’t stop.)

While Chang has already secured the new space, he launched the Indiegogo campaign to raise $10,000 for remodeling and equipment costs. Those who donate by 9 p.m. Sept. 1 will be eligible to receive special perks depending on the amount they give — $10, for example, will score you a “shot and a Chinese Bear Hug from the Angry Asian Man, Dan,” while $40 will get you a Wang Chung’s tank top that ranges in size from “Extra Little Wang to Godzilla Wang” (i.e. XS-2XL).

Additional perks include VIP Bottle Service ($200), a Private Party @ Little Wang’s ($500) and a Wang Chung’s Personal Trading Card ($1,000).

No official announcement has been made as to the new location’s opening date. To donate funds, visit indiegogo.com.

———

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 jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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