In the Mix: Fresh Cafe announces sudden closure

Dec. 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2015HawaiiSlam's monthly First Thursdays poetry slam filled Fresh Cafe Kakaako's performance space earlier this year.


HawaiiSlam’s monthly First Thursdays poetry slam filled Fresh Cafe Kakaako’s performance space earlier this year.


After six years on Queen Street and almost a year and a half in Chinatown, both Fresh Cafe Kakaako and Fresh Cafe Downtown will shut down at the close of business on Tuesday.

According to owner Tiffany Tanaka, she and partners Ryan Tanaka (no relation) and Gary Oda decided to part ways this week after failing to find common ground over day-to-day business operations.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014Fresh Cafe owner Tiffany Tanaka, second from right, at the grand opening of Fresh Cafe Downtown in 2014.


Fresh Cafe owner Tiffany Tanaka, second from right, at the grand opening of Fresh Cafe Downtown in 2014.

“I’m actually really relieved,” she said when reached by phone late Monday night. “Even though it’s kind of hard, I’ve accepted it. I’m excited to move forward.”

Tanaka, 35, graduated from Punahou and studied at Parsons New School of Design in New York and Paris before earning degrees in fashion and fine arts from the University of San Francisco. She opened Fresh Cafe Kakaako in 2009 and helped grow the art and music scene by hosting events like HawaiiSlam’s First Thursdays poetry slam, Art + Flea, POW! WOW! Hawaii and TEDxHonolulu. In order to expand into the former Indigo space on Nuuanu Avenue, Tanaka enlisted Ryan Tanaka and Oda as partners in the overall business in 2014.

While she was confident Fresh Cafe could resurface again in the relatively near future, Tanaka would not confirm or deny plans to reopen in either original location. She did say both Hawaii Theatre, which is the landlord of the Chinatown restaurant, and the new owner of the Queen Street building that houses Fresh Cafe Kakaako were both aware of the situation and working with her to explore various options.

“Everything is up in the air,” said Tanaka. “Whatever doesn’t break you, makes you. … I’m looking forward to fresh changes in 2016. To offer a better cafe, more art and live music and (serve) my community.”

Fresh Cafe Kakaako is located at 831 Queen Street and will be open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to the company’s website. Fresh Cafe Downtown, 1111 Nuuanu Avenue, will be open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Jason Genegabus has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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