Zanzabar Nightclub closing for good

Aug. 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

BY ANDREW GOMES / agomes@staradvertiser.com

In a city where a typical nightlife venue might last a few years, Zanzabar Nightclub outlived many rivals. But this weekend, the music will stop and the doors will close for good at the Waikiki Trade Center after almost 14 years.

The entrance leading up to the second floor bars, dance floor and VIP room at Zanzabar Nightclub. Over the years, the club has become more run down, resulting in the need for costly renovations in order to remain open. (Courtesy photo)

The entrance leading up to the second floor bars, dance floor and VIP room at Zanzabar Nightclub. Over the years, the club has become more run down, resulting in the need for costly renovations in order to remain open. (Courtesy photo)

The owners of the club said a combination of reduced business, a need to renovate and the inability to obtain a new lease led to the decision to end Zanzabar’s long run.

“It was an exciting adventure for many years,” Jim Boersema, managing partner and spokesman for a group that owns the club, said in a statement.

Rick Rock, a local promoter who hosted events at Zanzabar on Thursdays for more than 12 years, said Zanzabar was a staple of Honolulu’s nightlife landscape.

“I think that’s probably one of the longest runs for a nightclub (in Hawaii),” he said. “All things must come to an end.”

Zanzabar opened in 1999 with decor highlighted by Egyptian statues and gold trim, in a spot that for almost a decade prior was home to the $6 million Maharaja Nightclub. Zanzabar’s owners took over the club and gave it a $1.4 million renovation along with a new name.

Today, many facets of the club are severely worn or outdated, according to Boersema.

“The club is badly in need of a major renovation if it is to remain competitive,” he said.

A view of the main dance floor at Zanzabar Nightclub in the Waikiki Trade Center. (Courtesy photo)

A view of the main dance floor at Zanzabar Nightclub in the Waikiki Trade Center. (Courtesy photo)

Renovating again was considered, but Boersema said a new long-term lease required to justify such a large investment could not be arranged with the building’s owner.

Zanzabar is the third late-night venue to close at the Waikiki Trade Center in recent years. Black Diamond Nightclub closed about two years ago, followed by The Shack Waikiki, a sports bar, last year.

At one time, the concentration of establishments in the building staying open till 4 a.m. raised concerns from Honolulu Police Department and Honolulu Liquor Commission due to a relatively high occurrence of fights. Black Diamond and The Shack worked to address the issue, but could not sustain operations.

Boersema said he sincerely appreciates all the people who worked at and visited Zanzabar over its lifetime in Waikiki.

The nightclub has about 45 employees. Nearly 2.5 million customers, including major celebrities, passed through the club’s doors over the years, according to Boersema.

“It’s been a long run,” he said. “We hope this place will remain in their memory.”

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