Grind Time: The Whole Ox Deli coming to Kakaako

Dec. 10, 2011 | 2 Comments


The cat is out of the bag — or the whole ox, as the case may be for Robert McGee.

The chef who formerly served in the kitchen at Apartment3 before striking out on his own with successful pop-up restaurant concept Plancha Honolulu is now working with promoters-turned-restauranteurs the Vertical Junkies to open the Whole Ox Deli. He took to Twitter on Saturday, Dec. 10, with official word about the next adventure he had been talking about for weeks with friends and customers — and a plea for financial support.

A rough idea of what the Whole Ox Deli will look like when it opens on Keawe Street in February 2012. (Courtesy Robert McGee)

A rough idea of what the interior of the Whole Ox Deli will look like when it opens on Keawe Street in February 2012. (Courtesy Robert McGee)

“I am going to open a deli in Kakaako, with any luck by February 2012,” McGee wrote in the description for his new campaign on fundraising site IndieGoGo. “I have financing for most of this endeavor, except for one very important item … a smoker. This smoker, along with whole animal butchery, will be the cornerstone of our business, so it has to be reliable, efficient and be around long after I am.”

The smoker he wants to use (an Alto-Shaam 1767-SK) for the Whole Ox costs $11,000, and McGee plans to use it to “create and brand pastramis, hams and other deli meats using local, humanely raised, free roamin’ beasts.” He’s turned to the general public to help come up with the money, and hopes to raise it all by Jan. 30 in order to meet his goal of opening in February.

“I can’t change the world, but in this state, we, as a community, can make a difference by buying local whenever possible,” he wrote. “Whole Ox deli meats will be me, doing my part. You can help me by donating funds towards the purchase of this smoker.”

Want to help? Check out the IndieGoGo fundraising page and click on the “Contribute Now” button. Every dollar helps, but McGee will kick back special rewards — including shout-outs on Twitter, $15 vouchers to the new deli, naming sandwiches on the menu after donors, and more — to those who donate at least $10.

The Whole Ox will be located on Keawe Street, in a portion of the space that used to be Blue Ocean Thai Restaurant (club kids will remember the building better as Grumpy’s or Bliss Nightclub). According to a rough floor plan posted on McGee’s Twitter account, the downstairs dining room and bar will be transformed into the deli; there is no official word yet on what will happen to the second floor lounge space.
“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at

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  • Anonymous

    At :45 please correct your spelling…  ALOT is not a word, it is: A LOT which is 2 words.  Don’t get me wrong, I love your concept, and good luck with the fundraiser!  Look forward to eating at your deli and contributing to the eat local movement! 

  • Anonymous

    this place opening is very exciting!  whole animal butchery! yay! im assuming there will be some delicious offal!