Bae Yong Joon to open Waikiki cafe
BY JASON GENEGABUS / firstname.lastname@example.org
Korean celebrity Bae Yong Joon is working towards opening a coffee shop in Waikiki called Gorilla in the Café Hawaii, a spokesperson confirmed. The news was first reported by “K-Drama” columnist Jeff Chung in the Jan. 15 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“We just got the lease … (and) the project is going forward,” said Timothy Lee, a Hawaii-based real estate agent who represents Bae’s Gorilla Life Way USA, LLC.
After successful acting roles in Korean and Japanese television (where he is known as Yonsama), Bae expanded his business interests into restaurant ventures in those two countries. A visit to Hawaii island last year got him interested in opening something here.
“He really enjoys Hawaii and is an avid golfer,” Lee said. “When he was here in April, we were in Kona, and that’s where he really got to experience the coffee farms.”
Back on Oahu, Lee connected Bae with the Korean owners of Teddy Bear World in Waikiki, who incidentally had a vacant space available to sub-lease. Once the necessary paperwork was finalized earlier this month, Gorilla in the Café Hawaii became a reality. While Lee will handle some aspects of the new business, he said Bae himself will oversee much of the process.
“He’s going to be directly involved,” said Lee. “He’s a big foodie (and) has a very good palate.
“My thing in Hawaii is that we really lack the outdoor dining options here. We have great weather all year long, but for some reason there’s not much outdoor seating.”
Lee said that while the new, 500 square-foot space isn’t that big, it’s a dedicated seating area outside that will help attract customers. Bae’s fans will also be drawn to design elements and merchandise that reflect the actor’s personality.
“This project is personal,” said Lee. “It will be a lot of (Bae’s) personal preferences on the merchandise and everything that we do.”
Gorilla in the Café Hawaii will be located at 2155 Kalakaua Ave. and is tentatively set to open in April. Bae is expected to attend the grand opening.