Honolulu Magazine: Where To Go When You Need a Drink This Christmas 2017


PUBLISHED: 2017.12.06 12:01 PM



Simply put, The Christmas Bar at Ala Moana Center is genius.

Stressed-out shoppers can take shelter in this new pop-up bar, which took over the 2,400-square-foot space vacated by Magnolia Bakery near Longs Drugs now through the end of the month. It offers a variety of festive martinis, spiked hot chocolate, glasses of wine, beers on draft and the already-popular Hogwarts Butterbeer, which can be made nonalcoholic. (But why?)

 Michael Miller, director of operations and longtime veteran bartender at Tiki’s Grill & Bar, is running this jolly joint, which is decked with garland, Christmas lights and more ornaments than the tree at Honolulu Hale.

 “For me, this is super fun,” says Miller, wearing a red collared shirt and a Santa hat. “It’s just about having a good time.”



If you can imagine where Santa’s elves went to pau hana, it would be this place. The servers are dressed in Christmas sweaters, socks and Santa hats. The menu features five merry martinis, including the Clause-mopolitan ($9) made with citrus vodka, Cointreau, lime and pomegranate juice. Other spirited spirits include a boozy eggnog ($9) with bourbon and a pinch of nutmeg; Mexican hot chocolate ($9) with Kahlua, rum and a pinch of cayenne pepper served hot or cold; and a winter sangria ($8) with vodka, white wine, apricot brandy, apples, cranberries and orange juice.



The butterbeer, though, is the most popular, luring Harry Potter fans and muggles who loves the blend of caramel and cream soda. The adult version ($7) has vanilla vodka, Butterscotch Schnapps, cream soda and marshmallow fluff. I’ve had the one from Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, and this is far better. Maybe it’s the alcohol.

There’s also an off-the-menu shot that’s worth inquiring about: The Shot of Joy ($7) combines Peppermint Schnapps, Pinnacle chocolate whipped vodka and créme de cacao for a joyous punch that’s so smooth it’s dangerous. It comes with a mini marshmallow studded with bits of candy cane as a chaser of sorts.

If cocktails aren’t your thing—but you’re still desperate for a drink mid-shopping—the bar offers four beers (two on draft), four kinds of wines and soft drinks, too.

It’s not surprising, given the merriment here, that customers have already come back dressed as elves to sit at the bar or requested to hold their office parties here.

 “We just wanted this to be super fun,” Miller says.

If only it would last.

The Christmas Bar, Ala Moana Center near Longs Drugs, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Dec. 31, (808) 951-4707


Christmas pop-up bar opens in Ala Moana - Pacific Business News

By  –  Reporter, Pacific Business News
Dec 5, 2017, 1:49pm HSTUpdated Dec 5, 2017, 2:22pm

Bill Tobin, managing partner and co-owner of Tiki’s Grill & Bar in Waikiki, has opened a Christmas pop-up bar at Ala Moana Center.

Michael Miller, Tiki’s director of operations, is managing The Christmas Bar, which is situated in a 2,400-square-foot space formerly occupied by Magnolia Bakery, which closed last December.

Tobin, Miller and Tiki’s General Manager Albert Aki decided to open the bar a few months ago, having already secured a liquor license for another concept.

“We were working on another concept with [General Growth Properties, which manages the mall] but the timing wasn’t right, so they approached us about the opportunity to open up a temporary spot,” Miller told Pacific Business News. “[The mall] has been great to work with, and they tried to help us expedite the process of opening.”

Miller said the bar is the result of recycled materials and help from friends and family, who came together to put up holiday decorations inside the space. The menu includes Christmas-inspired drinks, such as egg nog, cranberry mojitos and Hogwarts Butterbeer.

“Bill had done a similar concept on the Mainland, and we opened up on Saturday night after a little remodel of the space, mostly to the bar area,” Miller said. “We upcycled whatever we could from other projects, a lot of this stuff was waiting to go to the dump. We asked a few friends if they wanted to help decorate, and we worked on the drink recipes at home on our own time.”

The bar will be open until Dec. 31 and has brought in customers of the mall as well as Ala Moana Center employees. The Christmas Bar is staffed by current Tiki’s employees.

“We have about two on staff,” Miller said. “We just asked anybody who wanted to make some extra money during the holidays.”

Miller is considering adding an entertainment component to the bar, such as caroling, or playing Christmas movies.

“The main reason we did this is that it’s fun,” Miller said. “We all have busy lives with jobs, family and events, and we didn’t want to do something that wasn’t going to be fun, but we also didn’t want to do something where we were going to lose money.”

The restaurant trio—Miller, Tobin and Aki—may open another, more permanent concept together in the future, though it is still too early for specifics, Miller said.


Speaking at SmallBiz Academy - Monetizing Your Digital Media

Many of you know that I'm the proud director of operations for Tiki's Grill & Bar. A few of you know that I've been teaching classes focusing on consumer behavior in the business program at the University of Hawai'i - West Oahu. Sharing my social media marketing and business experiences with my classes been very rewarding.

Last year I was honored to be asked by Hawaii Business Magazine to speak at the final SmallBiz Academy of the year. The topic was "Monetizing Your Digital Media."

Editor Steven Petranik welcomed everyone and introduced Thomas Obungen, digital and social media strategist of Upspring Media LLC and Associate Editor of Frolic Hawaii. He shared about using Facebook to drive excitement and engagement, also discussing sequence and frequency of posting. He explained how testing pricing for lunches made them come up with a price of $10 per box lunch, which allowed higher sales $12 as people bought two at $10 vs. one at $12.

Kuhao Zane, director of design and marketing, represented the aloha shirt company, Sig Zane Designs. It was his Dad's 72nd birthday and he asked everyone to stand and wish him birthday, sharing a story about how Hawaiians embraced the printing press to share knowledge in the Hawaiian language with others. He explained how today's platforms still allow for sharing, with their shirts each telling a story. Takeaways from Kuhao included the storefront, using elements in , placing content before sales. 

Jennifer Diesman, VP of HMSA, shared the challenges of being a mature company and what it took to launch an app more about health and well-being than an insurance company and finding the right partner in ShareCare to get it done.

I spoke about Yelp and went beyond the basics. Speaking about understanding consumers and embracing the platform, leveraging data along with guest experience to make improvements, yet also doing the basics. 

Hosted by Steven Petranik and Cheryl with Kira Chong Tim and Michelle Okada and Jeff Hawe, along with the rest of the team at Hawaii Business Magazine.

It was hosted in the downtown Honolulu Business District with about 120 guests in the room. http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/5-things-small-businesses-should-know-about-monetizing-their-digital-media/

Fwd: Thank you letter from Easter Seals for Participating in the traveling plate event fundraiser $350 donation

For the month of August, Tiki's Grill & Bar particapated in the  2ND Annual Traveling Plate HI 2017
A statewide culinary tour, celebrating the Easter Seals legacy in the Hawaiian Islands. Diverse events on Maui, Hawai‘i Island, Kauaʻi, and O‘ahu during the Summer of 2017 will exclusively feature local chefs and restaurants highlighting island ingredients in an effort to increase awareness of Easter Seals Hawaii while promoting the local food movement. 

Easter Seals Hawaii provides exceptional, individualized, family-centered services to empower people with disabilities or special needs to achieve their goals and live independent fulfilling lives

Our featured dish: Maui Nui Venison Tiki Burger, One-half pound of all natural Venison from Maui on a sweet taro bun with sweet onions, sliced pickles, lettuce & tomato and "Huna" (secret) sauce. Served with sidewinder french fries. 

It's always nice to get a thank you letter!  

Kitchen Creations w/ Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki's Grill and Bar - Crab & Boursin Palu Sami

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
In this Kitchen Creation, Chef Ronnie and Grace Lee talk about taro leaves, also known as luau leaves.
These are from Wong's Products of Oahu. The featured recipe is Crab and Boursin Palu Sami Dip.
Chef Ronnie and Grace Lee talk 

Wong's Products has been growing taro leaves on a 35-acre Kahaluu farm, and his products service the entire Island of Oahu. Taro leaves are exportable to other islands and the mainland states. The Wong's also produce Lehua Taro Corms that are used for Poi or Kulolo making.

Wong's Products are all-natural and guaranteed fresh for your peace of mind.


Crab & Boursin Cheese Luau Dip
Palusami style Hawaiian luau leaf & coconut custard mixed with blue crab & three kinds of cheese. Served piping hot with tri-color corn tortilla chips at Tikisgrill.com

From Honolulu Magzine:

This Local Family’s Been Growing Taro for Decades

Luau leaf


ll the people who used to grow wetland taro were in Thelma Wong’s family—and they still are now. Thelma Wong is a second-generation Chinese who runs Wong’s Products with her brothers. The only other commercial wetland luau leaf grower on Oahu is her cousin, Clifford. (The difference between dryland and wetland luau leaf? “Wetland is more tender,” Thelma says.) Her father, Leonard, started the business even though his mother told him, “Don’t be a farmer. Your back is always to the sun and your face to the rain. Don’t be a farmer … unless you have a lot of children.”

Leonard had 10 children. So he farmed (though he also had a business degree and, at the time, an office job). He bought land in Kahaluu and grew corn, turnips, green beans and taro for the corm (the root). He switched to raising taro for leaves because they were faster to harvest—every two weeks versus a year for the corm. He kept amassing land—adjacent properties, then 14 acres along Kamehameha Highway, then in Punaluu. When H-1 was being built, he bought the government-seized houses along the route and moved them to Kahaluu, to become Wong’s Village.

Luau leaf

Today, the farm is 35 acres and Wong’s Products’ business consists of luau leaves, lehua taro, freshwater prawns and rental units in Wong’s Village. Last year, Wong’s Products sold 400,000 pounds of luau leaf to restaurants such as Highway Inn and Young’s Fish Market. Not a bad legacy for a man warned against farming.

Tikis Wins BEST SLIDERS - Best of Honolulu 2017: Winners Honolulu Magazine July 2017 Issue

Best of Honolulu 2017: Food


At first, the idea of choosing between sliders seemed like an act of hubris destined to end in nightmare indigestion. Our extensive sampling indeed revealed an overreliance on sweet barbecue pork and assembly line production. But this same sameness made it relatively easy for a true standout to emerge: Tiki’s Grill & Bar. It doesn’t hurt that Tiki’s is notched on the second floor of the Aston Waikīkī Beach Hotel, overlooking the surf break, but it was the only place that offered a fish, pork and hamburger trio in a single order ($15). In sliders, variety matters. What’s way more important: These babies are chef-curated and local-sourced, just like grown-up food in white tablecloth restaurants. Fresh local fish, grass-fed Big Island beef, taro buns, local lettuce. The portions aren’t mingy, either, but real three-bite mouthfuls. You other guys, consider the bar raised.

2570 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 923-8454, tikisgrill.com.

Hauula Tomatoes - Kitchen Creations w/ Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki's Grill and Bar TV Hawaii News Now

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now)
Back in the kitchen with Grace Lee & Chef Ronnie Nasuti. Chef works with Grace on a recipe to make Hawaiian Dish made with local products.

Hau’ula tomatoes, cored and sliced ½” 1 each
Fresh mozzarella 3 slices
Balsamic thyme glaze As needed
Macadamia nut pesto As needed
Micro shiso As needed
Yukari ½ tsp.
Extra Virgin Olive oil 1 tbsp.
Sea salt As needed
Fresh cracked pepper As needed

Macadamia nuts 2 tbsp.
Fresh basil leaves 1 cup
Garlic cloves 1pc.
Kosher salt To taste
Grated parmesan 2 tbsp.
Extra virgin olive oil 2/3 cup

Balsamic vinegar ½ cup
Sugar 1 tbsp.
Fresh thyme 1 sprig

• For the pesto; muddle all ingredients with a mortar and pestle and season with salt.
• For the balsamic glaze; in a small non reactive sauce pan simmer the sugar, vinegar and thyme sprig until it coats the back of a spoon and let cool to room temperature.
• Built the salad; paint the balsamic thyme glaze on the plate, arrange the mozzarella slices alternating them with the tomatoes.  Top with pesto, extra EVOO, sea salt, yukari, shiso & fresh cracked black pepper.

Terry Shintaku's Green Growers farm in Hauula 
Location: 54-190 Kawaipuna Street      Phone: (808) 293-5477
Founded by Graf Shintaku in 1955 and now opertated by his son, Terry Shintaku.
These tomatoes were grown using hydroponic technology.
Hau'ula Green Growers also grows Kai Choi (Mustard Cabage), Tahitian Luau Leaves, Green Onions, Baby Pak Choi.

You can find Chef Ronnie Nasuti at Tiki's Grill & Bar in Waikiki. www.tikisgrill.com

Stay Connected:  Web  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Hawaii Restaurant Association (HRA) asks Liquor Commission to re-look at increasing liquor license fees by 70%

Thursday, August 31st 2017, 10:04 pm HSTFriday, September 1st 2017, 10:40 am HST
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

On Oahu 1,400 establishments hold liquor licenses. The Honolulu Liquor Commission's proposed license fee increase would raise what they pay by 70 percent. It would cost some establishments hundreds of dollars more and other's thousands.

Tiki's Grill & Bar's fee for fiscal year 2018 would jump from $3,900 to $6,700.

"If you're only making ten cents on the dollar, to pay for a fee increase, it really hurts. There will be places that will go out of business," Tiki's director operations Michael Miller said.

But Liquor Commission administrator Don Pacarro said establishments who have already paid their liquor license fees for Fiscal 2018 would pay less than the 70 percent, depending on when the proposal gets passed and how many months are left in the fiscal year. 

The Liquor Commission needs to raise about $450,000 to help pay for a new database system and to fund rising operating costs.

"The system is 19 years old. We can't update it. We can't do anything with it. It's outlived it's purpose," commission administrator Don Pacarro said.

He said current fees can't cover the cost.

But the Hawaii Restaurant Association warns if the 70 percent hike goes through customers will feel it.

"The fee has to be absorbed at some level. That's going to be passed on to every consumer that comes into an establishment," chairman Tyler Roukema said.

Cynthia Okazaki of the Hawaii Partnership to Prevent Underage Drinking believes increasing license fees would discourage youngsters from buying alcohol.

"That increase will be passed on to the consumer. For someone who is underage that will make them drink less because of the cost," she said.

Besides bars and restaurants, the increase would also apply to liquor wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, and caterers.

"It's not just this one fee," Miller said. "Minimum wage will be going up in January, there's other legislation coming up as well. All these different fees and increases to do business are really going to hurt some of the smaller restaurants."

"You can end up driving away business," Roukema said.

The Liquor Commission argues that the license fee has remained the same for the past twelve years so an increase is warranted.

"It's long overdue. We're being very careful so we look at the numbers and try to do it as fairly as we can," Pacarro said.

Any increase to the liquor license fee needs approval from the City Council. The Honolulu Liquor Commission will hold another public hearing on September 14.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Fwd: Most eateries throw away their extra food. A City Council bill seeks to change that

Monday, July 3rd 2017, 8:44 pm HST
Jim Mendoza

For several years Tiki's Grill & Bar has donated the eatery's extra food to Aloha Harvest, a nonprofit that distributes surplus food to the hungry through food pantries.

"You might have a large banquet and not everyone shows up for the banquet so you have extra food," Tiki's operations director Michael Miller said. "That's the phenomenal part of it, Aloha Harvest, you just pick up the phone and they'll come pick it up."

City Council member Ann Kobayashi said Tiki's is one of a small number of restaurants in Honolulu that donate surplus food on a regular basis.

"We found out that there are only about 40 restaurants that actually give their excess food every day to a group that can then make use of it," she said.

But Kobayashi wants to change that.

In January, she introduced Bill 9, a measure that originally "mandated" but was then changed to "encourages" food establishments to donate surplus and leftover food for redistribution. She said the measure serves a dual purpose by increasing food to feed the hungry and helping those who are on the verge of becoming homeless.

"If we could put a dent in it at the front end by by helping people pay rent rather than buy food, I think that's a good thing," she said.

Miller agrees with Kobayashi that more restaurants should be involved in donating excess food, but he doesn't think the answer is creating another law.

He said getting restaurants to cooperate may be easier if they were educated on the benefits of donating food.

"If there was an incentive for restaurants and businesses to donate to the Food Bank or donate to Aloha Harvest, that would be a great way to approach it versus a legislative or regulatory approach to it," he said.

In written testimony, the Hawaii Food Industry Association supported the bill's intent but warned it could burden establishments if they were also asked to separate and store food that's served but left uneaten.

Bill 9 has been deferred twice by the Council's Public Works committee. Members want more information before taking a vote.

As for Kobayashi, she says she's not giving up on the measure.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.