New Waikiki hot spot lures thousands
The redeveloped International Market Place opened in Waikiki this week with thousands of kamaaina and visitors checking out the long-awaited event. All photos by Erika Engle.
Naturally there were speeches by elected officials and executives with the center's developer, Michigan-based Taubman Centers Inc.
What the crowd was eagerly anticipating, was the doors of about half of the 90 shops and three completed restaurants to open.
Honolulu Cookie Co. had a long line of people awaiting the opening of the doors to its shop, which offers free taste-before-you-buy samples of its various baked-in-Hawaii cookie flavors.
New-to-Hawaii candy store Sugarfina, also brightly and cheerfully lit, was packed with people perusing the shop's sweets, many of which are whimsical and geared toward grown-up tastes.
Also on the ground floor, a billboard relays a promise of things yet-to-come. The Street, curated by Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Michael Mina and his team, is set to open in the Spring. Among its more than one dozen dining options will be the Ramen Bar, by chef Ken Tominaga. Tominaga and Mina are partners in Pabu, a popular San Francisco izakaya. The Ramen Bar, which serves Tokyo-style ramen right next door to Pabu, in the city's financial district.
On the third floor Grand Lanai, Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi, and Stripsteak, by Mina, were ready to open on the first day of IMP's new life. By 11:15 a.m., the Eating House bar was full, and many of the tables also were full of eager diners.
The Eating House kitchen was bustling with Executive Chef Mike Leslie calling out orders and cooks churning out orders.
A line formed outside Stripsteak as local people sought to try the famed cuisine by an award-winning chef.
Smartly dressed Stripsteak General Manager Ron Bonifacio was ready for a busy day with sensible, yet whimsical footwear, for which he is known.
The expansive International Market Place spans nearly six acres, with stores and restaurants on three levels. Touch-screen directories offer helpful navigational guidance, if you'd like to formulate a plan before heading in to Waikiki.
More restaurants will open on the Grand Lanai in the coming weeks, and additional retailers also will be opening as time progresses. The International Market Place offers 700 parking stalls, and validated parking, though depending on how long you're there, you may still have to use your plastic in order to exit.